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Fly Ash Class Action Settlement: In December 2008, Judge Alfred Nance Signed Off On The Settlement, Which Will Cost Constellation Energy In Excess Of $54 Million

Baltimore, Maryland, Ground Water Contamination Lawyers

In December 2008, a settlement was reached between a Constellation Energy Group subsidiary and Anne Arundel County, Maryland, residents, who alleged that their groundwater had been tainted by coal ash. Judge Alfred Nance signed off on the settlement, which will cost Constellation Energy in excess of $54 million, which includes an award of $10 million in attorneys fees to be paid to the groundwater contamination attorneys for the plaintiffs, Peter Angelos Law and Murphy Firm. The settlement brings resolution to a year-old class action.

In his ruling from the bench, Judge Nance said, “The court is struck by the breadth of expert witnesses that you’ve brought into the case.” He added, “This court can’t come to any other conclusion than that which has been submitted today,” and called the speedy resolution of the case “impressive.”

The agreement was reached after “extensive, extensive informal discovery” and multiple mediation sessions with retired Court of Appeals Judge Howard S. Chasanow and Professor Eric Green. The settlement had been endorsed by Jan Richard Schlichtmann, among other experts. Schlichtmann’s drinking water contamination suit against W.R. Grace and Beatrice Co. was the basis for the book and movie “A Civil Action.”

From 1995 until September 2007, Constellation Power Source Generation, a subsidiary of the Baltimore-based energy giant Constellation Energy Group, along with BBSS, Inc., the operator of its dump site, deposited millions of tons of fly ash (a byproduct of burning coal) from two of its Anne Arundel County power plants into two Gambrills quarries.

In November 2007, a class action lawsuit was filed, wherein the representative plaintiffs alleged that Constellation Power Source Generation should have known the ash contained toxins and carcinogens such as arsenic, lead and mercury and that it would leach into the groundwater through the quarries’ porous floor. They also alleged Constellation had “actively engaged in a campaign of deception to mislead” the plaintiffs as to the health threat from the fly ash.

Under the terms of the settlement, Constellation agreed that over a two-year period, it would connect 84 Gambrills households, previously dependent on private wells, to public water. Constellation will also pay those plaintiffs’ water bills for 10 years or until they move out, whichever comes first.