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:
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 1972 625 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
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
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
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?
Damages Compensatory damages-pay for what was actually lost Punitive damages- To punish and deter Show conduct is willful, wanton and reckless
How to ascribe value to damages? Damage to real and personal property-11 million Mental suffering-20 million Punitive damages-21 million
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
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
Should….. The case have gone to trial? Been handled differently?