CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Three lawsuits over a massive warehouse fire in Parkersburg have been transferred to federal court.
All three were originally filed in circuit court in Wood County. They have been moved to federal court in Charleston at the requests of the defendants, who are being represented by lawyers with Bailey & Glasser.
Those who are suing say they represent a class of people who suffered injuries from the inhalation of smoke and suspended particulate matter that resulted from the fire, which started Oct. 21 and burned for the next eight days.
The blaze at the 420,000-square-foot property, which was storing recyclable plastics for a company called IEI Plastics, sent a plume of smoke billowing over the city and across the Ohio border.
The plaintiffs say they suffered respiratory ailments ranging from irritation to exacerbation of serious preexisting
conditions. They also say they were injured as a result of soot, ash, and particulate matter, presenting an ongoing health risk from potential contact, inhalation, or ingestion.
The class action lawsuits were filed against Surnaik Holdings, Sirnaik LLC, Saurabh Naik, International Export Import Inc., Polymer Alliance Services LLC and Green Sustainable Solutions LLC — all entities with connections to the property that caught fire in Parkersburg.
Defense attorneys say federal court is the proper venue because the plaintiff and proposed class are from West Virginia and Ohio. The proposed class in West Virginia and Ohio comprises a population center of about 90,000 people.
The amount in dispute is more than $5 million, the defense lawyers say — although one of their filings says that likely low-balls the amount. The lawyers wrote that is “just $60 per member of the alleged putative class, an amount easily dwarfed by any actual cleanup costs and/or medical damages.”
In a couple of the class action lawsuits, lawyers seek medical monitoring of all West Virginia residents who were exposed to the fire.
“The medical monitoring allegations, standing alone, plainly exceed $5,000,000,” the defense lawyers wrote.
The cases have been assigned to U.S. Circuit Judge Thomas Johnston.