Mass Litigation Resolved by the Panel
Flood Litigation -- The Flood Litigation arose from flooding in southern West Virginia that occurred on or about July 8, 2001, and was before the Supreme Court of Appeals on two separate occasions. In June 2008, the Flood Litigation was referred back to the panel. After conducting numerous, intensive work sessions to develop a plan to manage the litigation, the six judges assigned by the panel to the Flood Litigation were divided into a Trial Panel, led by Judge John A. Hutchison, and a Resolution Panel, led by Judge Booker T. Stephens. All six panel judges then conducted a status conference in October 2008 to explain how the litigation would be managed.
To assist the panel in managing the Flood Litigation, then-Deputy Clerk Paul Flanagan worked with his staff during the spring of 2009 to construct a database that allowed the parties to match plaintiffs with defendants in various watersheds and sub-watersheds. Once the database was completed, electronic filing and service was implemented in the Flood Litigation, effective July 20, 2009.
On June 24, 2009, the Trial Panel entered a Case Management and Scheduling Order for the Phase II trial of the Upper Guyandotte Watershed, Subwatershed 2a, which included a plan for initial discovery that would allow defendants to obtain information necessary to make an evaluation of plaintiffs’ cases for mediation and possible settlement, selection of cases for mediation, and selection of trial groups to be prepared for trials in 2011. By September 2009, the parties advised the panel they wanted to mediate all of the July 8, 2001 flood cases.
The Resolution Panel conducted mediation on November 16-17, 2009, led by Judge Booker T. Stephens. This mediation was held in Welch, West Virginia, resulting in resolution of eighty-five cases. Less than one month later, on December 8-10, 2009, the Resolution Panel conducted another mediation and resolved the remaining 1,271 cases, thus settling the Flood Litigation.