The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is facing 57 lawsuits from more than 560 plaintiffs over the December 2008 coal ash spill that dumped more than a billion gallons of toxic material on to 300 acres of a neighboring community. The spill destroyed homes, damaged property and contaminated the nearby Emory River. Several residents have complained of headaches, nosebleeds, breathing problems and heightened anxiety as a result of living near the spill site. Attorneys with Beasley Allen Law Firm are among those who filed have filed lawsuits on behalf of residents affected by the catastrophic spill.
This week, TVA attorneys and attorneys representing the hundreds of plaintiffs gathered before U.S. Magistrate Bruce Guyton to work out details of the discovery process. TVA attorneys said they hoped to avoid duplicate discovery in the 50 new cases filed since August, and asked the court to give the new cases the same orders about disclosing evidence and document preservation that have already been applied to earlier lawsuits. Otherwise, deposing all the plaintiffs could take a year.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys said that the claims should be resolved quickly and that most clients would likely opt to settle and avoid a long pretrial process. “If that happens – and I encourage it – let me know,” Guyton told attorneys for both sides.
The TVA has asked in earlier court filings for the cases to be dismissed, citing a Department of Justice’s position that protects federal agencies from civil penalties in suits brought by citizen groups under some federal environmental statues. A ruling on that request has yet to be made.