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ANATOMY OF THE LAWSUIT

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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 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
   2nd 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?
What…
   Did the case accomplish ?

				
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posted:9/26/2012
language:English
pages:10