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$151M water crisis settlement moves closer to final court approval


Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Four years to the day after the Freedom Industries chemical spill, a landmark $151 million class-action settlement over the regional water crisis that followed the spill moved one step closer to final court approval during a hearing Tuesday morning in Charleston.

U.S. District Judge John Copenhaver said that, before granting that final approval, he wants to see updated numbers on how many claims have been filed and also receive a report from a court-appointed guardian whose role is to protect the interests of children who have claims to part of the settlement with West Virginia American Water Co. and Eastman Chemical Co.

The judge scheduled a hearing for Feb. 1 to consider that information.

The settlement seems almost certain to receive final approval, having prompted no formal objections from hundreds of thousands of residents, businesses and wage earners who are members of the class covered by the deal.

“It is extraordinary that there have been essentially no objections to the settlement.” Copenhaver said. “It is remarkable that there is such unanimity.”

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