Water crisis lawyers seek nearly $43 million in fees, $2.4 million expenses

Ken Ward Jr. , Staff Writer, Charleston Gazette-Mail on May 09, 2017

Dozens of lawyers for Kanawha Valley residents and businesses are asking a federal judge to approve payments of up to nearly $43 million in legal fees and $2.4 million in expenses as part of the settlement of class-action litigation over the January 2014 water crisis, according to a new court filing.

The new fee and expense request, filed late Monday night in federal court in Charleston, provides more details about the legal fees and costs than were previously made public nearly two weeks ago, when attorneys in the case submitted their proposed agreement in the $151 million settlement with West Virginia American Water and Eastman Chemical to U.S. District Judge John Copenhaver Jr.

In the deal, residents and businesses will receive tens of millions of dollars to compensate them for the contamination of the region’s drinking water supply following the Jan. 9, 2014, spill of MCHM and other chemicals at the Freedom Industries site just upstream from West Virginia American’s intake on the Elk River. Water crisis victims can receive payments - roughly $1,035 for a family of four - by filing simple claim forms or can seek additional compensation by submitting documentation of expenses for things like replacing hot water tanks, buying bottled water or for lost business or wages.

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