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ANATOMY OF THE LAWSUIT Settlement: June 1974-$13.5 million Pittston had offered 3 million Settlement was ½ of Pittston’s reported $27 million in profits.

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Presentation on theme: "ANATOMY OF THE LAWSUIT Settlement: June 1974-$13.5 million Pittston had offered 3 million Settlement was ½ of Pittston’s reported $27 million in profits."— Presentation transcript:

1 ANATOMY OF THE LAWSUIT Settlement: June 1974-$13.5 million Pittston had offered 3 million Settlement was ½ of Pittston’s reported $27 million in profits for plaintiffs split $8.5 million after subtracting legal fees and 25% contingency fee for Arnold and Porter Amount depended on experience Ranged from $125, 543 to $8400 on average Those who accepted $ from Pittston got less

2 Other Legal Actions State filed $100 million lawsuit against Pittston- $50 million for money spent on disaster relief, $50 million for punitive damages. In 1977, Governor Moore settled for $1million 3 days before leaving office 2 nd lawsuit brought on behalf of 348 juveniles who were not part of Stern’s lawsuit Settled for $48 million-$2800 each 5 Unborn (in utero) also got monetary awards

3 Legal Questions and Obstacles Who to sue-who has $$? What court-Federal or State Court Polluting navigable stream Piercing the corporate veil Judge shopping What kind of damages to seek Recovery for mental suffering? Most survivors suffered no physical injuries

4 Piercing Corporate Veil Must show Buffalo Creek operated as subsidiary Did it have separate stockholders meetings? Did principals of Buffalo see themselves as agents of Pittston? What else?

5 Damages Compensatory damages-pay for what was actually lost Punitive damages- To punish and deter Show conduct is willful, wanton and reckless

6 How to ascribe value to damages? Damage to real and personal property-11 million Mental suffering-20 million Punitive damages-21 million

7 What did Plaintiff need to know to make a case? Legal research to determine: Legal test for reckless conduct as opposed to merely negligent Past cases-precedents –on “act of God” defense Past reports related to industry, i.e. Aberfan Experts who could establish legitimacy of survivor’s syndrome

8 To get this information… Interrogatories-written questions Depositions-oral testimony –yields critical information, like previous dam failures and results of previous lawsuits that had settled Medical examination

9 Should….. The case have gone to trial? Been handled differently?

10 What… Did the case accomplish ?


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