The Buffalo Creek Disaster

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  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 2008-05-06
  • Publisher: Vintage

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One Saturday morning in February 1972, an impoundment dam owned by the Pittston Coal Company burst, sending a 130 million gallon, 25 foot tidal wave of water, sludge, and debris crashing into southern West Virginia's Buffalo Creek hollow. It was one of the deadliest floods in U.S. history. 125 people were killed instantly, more than 1,000 were injured, and over 4,000 were suddenly homeless. Instead of accepting the small settlements offered by the coal company's insurance offices, a few hundred of the survivors banded together to sue. This is the story of their triumph over incredible odds and corporate irresponsibility, as told by Gerald M. Stern, who as a young lawyer and took on the case and won.

Author Biography

Gerald M. Stern is a Counselmen at Phillips & Cohen LLP, a practice is devoted exclusively to representing whistleblowers in qui tam lawsuits. He graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School before beginning his legal career in Washington.

Table of Contents

Forewordp. xi
Prologuep. xiii
The Call for Helpp. 3
"An Act of God"p. 10
"When in Doubt, Do the Right Thing"p. 17
"Mountain Mama"p. 22
"Take Care of My Baby"p. 36
"They Wasn't for Sale"p. 48
"Flagrant Disregard"p. 64
"Mere Puff and Blow"p. 69
"Oyez, oyez, oyez"p. 83
"A More Definite Statement"p. 91
"Pittston Loses Bid for Secrecy"p. 106
Some Lawyer Storiesp. 114
"What Do You Mean, 'Dam'?"p. 124
"It Was a Natural Occurrence"p. 131
"Nowhere Else to Put It"p. 138
"What About Existing Dams?"p. 148
"Psychic Impairment"p. 154
"Danger Note"p. 168
"Enough"p. 174
"Ambulance Chasing"p. 181
The Statute of Limitationsp. 185
A Written Settlement Proposalp. 192
"Flood at Lick Fork"p. 197
"The Potential for Similar Disasters"p. 200
"Catch-22"p. 206
A Settlement Meetingp. 216
"Absent Plaintiffs"p. 219
"Unavailable" Witnessesp. 227
The "Glaring Deductible"p. 231
"The Dam Was All Right"p. 238
Strategyp. 247
Epiloguep. 271
Afterwordp. 273
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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