CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A month into the claim filing period for the settlement reached in the response to the 2014 Freedom Industries chemical spill, about 25 percent of those eligible to file claims have done so, according to an attorney involved in the class action lawsuit.
As of Monday, Anthony Majestro, managing partner at Charleston’s Powell and Majestro and one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys in the case against West Virginia American Water Company and Eastman Chemical, said about 30,000 claims have been submitted.
The total class size is around 120,000 representing the homes and businesses that lost usable tap water in the spill’s aftermath.
“A lot of class actions, you don’t ever even get to 25 percent, so we’re very happy at the response and we think this is a really beneficial settlement and are encouraging everybody to file claims,” Majestro said.
“We want to get it as close to 100 percent as we can.”
Up to $151 million is available as part of a settlement with West Virginia American Water Company and Eastman Chemical reached in connection with the Jan. 9, 2014 spill on the Elk River. With the settlement, the two companies do not admit liability.
Claims can be filed at www.wvwaterclaims.com or via mail through forms mailed to affected residents with Claim ID numbers at the start of October.
Additionally, claim assistance is available by phone at 855-829-8121.
In general, the six main categories for claim filings are residential, business, hourly wage earners, medical, pregnancy and government.
The framework for minimum claim payments for those filing “simple” claims are as follows:
Residential Households – $550 + $180 per additional resident
Shutdown Business Claims – $1,875 plus 4% of annual revenue up to $41,875
Lodging Business Claims – $5,000 to $64,000 based on annual revenue.
Other Businesses – $1,875
Nonprofit Organizations – $1,875
“If you have damages that are a little higher than the average person, I would encourage you to go look at the individual review claim forms which are a little more complicated, but if you complete those you may end up with a higher award,” Majestro said.
The claim filing deadline is Feb. 21, 2018. At the earliest, payments will not be distributed until after that date.
A final hearing on the settlement is set for Jan. 9, 2018 which will be the 4th anniversary of the spill that left thousands of West Virginians without usable tap water.
“If the court finally approves the settlement, we’ll be mailing checks to people and we want everybody that’s eligible to get the money they’re entitled to,” Majestro said.