Calwell Luce diTrapano and Forbes Law Offices File Class Action in Response to Water Line Break That Pierced Main Gas Line on Charleston’s West Side

Charleston, W.Va. — Calwell Luce diTrapano PLLC, a law firm on Charleston’s West Side, and Forbes Law Offices PLLC have filed a class action lawsuit against West Virginia American Water Company and Mountaineer Gas Company on behalf of the 1,100 residents and businesses on Charleston’s West Side impacted by water and natural gas outages rendering them without basic services such as the ability to heat their homes or cook for their families.

Approximately 1,100 residents and businesses on Charleston’s West Side lost natural gas service on Friday, November 10, when the force of a high-pressure water main break pierced a main gas line causing water to surge through 46 miles of gas lines. Residents and businesses have been left without heat since the disaster unfolded and were also without water during the first few days causing a major disruption of life and commerce.

“This is a difficult and frightening time for those who live and work on the West Side. Our office is on the West Side and many of our friends and colleagues have expressed concern, particularly with the lack of a real time frame to correct the problems and the unknown extent of the damage to their homes and businesses,” said Dante’ diTrapano, co-counsel for the plaintiffs.

“The presence of water in natural gas lines is dangerous and renders the lines unavailable for use, and hundreds of residents are suffering without heat during consecutive cold evenings,” said diTrapano. “West Virginia American Water knew or should have known that the high-pressure water main was prone to failure because of its construction, joints, layout, and usage characteristics and the lack of standard, required maintenance and repair. And Mountaineer Gas knew or should have known that West Virginia American Water has a history of poor maintenance and repair and catastrophic failure, and they failed to take necessary precautions to prevent the contamination of the gas lines with water,” diTrapano added.

Jesse Forbes, also co-counsel for the plaintiffs, said Mountaineer Gas officials have indicated it could take more than a week to clear the water out of the gas lines, especially since the gas has to be turned on, in person, house-by-house and business-by-business by gas company officials.

“A major outage such as this creates a dangerous situation for all those affected. With temperatures dropping, people need heat and basic services. There are children living here, a school is closed, and the elderly and those with health conditions are even more susceptible and need help,” said Forbes.

“The last several days have been excruciatingly difficult for the affected residents and businesses,” Forbes continued. “Residents cannot warm their homes during the cold nights and mornings and businesses cannot conduct business,” Forbes added. “We look forward to seeking justice for those affected by this crisis.”

diTrapano emphasized that filing a civil action following such a catastrophic event is necessary to help ensure that every person and business affected has their rights protected and that those responsible are held accountable.

“We hope that this helps to shine a light on what really occurred and that each person who had damage to their homes or businesses and is going without heat has the problems corrected,” added diTrapano. “The West Side is strong and is coming together to help their neighbors, but the community needs help in the short term and in the long term,” diTrapano concluded.

“These folks need help right now, and as West Virginians, we know that our community will continue to step up and provide for our neighbors,” said Forbes. “Hopefully through this civil action, we can help not only with the immediate needs but also with ensuring that people have their homes and appliances repaired and that steps are taken to prevent these types of catastrophes from occurring in the future,” added Forbes.

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