ANATOMY OF THE LAWSUIT
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
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
Did it have separate stockholders meetings?
Did principals of Buffalo see themselves as
agents of Pittston?
Compensatory damages-pay for what was
To punish and deter
Show conduct is willful, wanton and reckless
How to ascribe value to
Damage to real and personal property-11
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
Past cases-precedents –on “act of God”
Past reports related to industry, i.e. Aberfan
Experts who could establish legitimacy of
To get this information…
Depositions-oral testimony –yields critical
information, like previous dam failures and
results of previous lawsuits that had
The case have gone to trial?
Been handled differently?
Did the case accomplish ?