CHARLESTON, W.Va. — One Kanawha County Circuit Judge could take up a handful of lawsuits filed by Charleston residents against Mountaineer Gas and West Virginia American Water Company for the water main break and gas outage in the city’s West Side last November.

Civil lawsuits filed by West Side residents advanced in court Tuesday. Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Bailey looked at four cases and said she would take up all of them. They will stay with her unless they get moved to a special mass litigation panel. Movement of the cases is up to state Supreme Court Chief Justice Tim Armstead.

Jesse Forbes

Charleston attorney Jesse Forbes represents the plaintiffs in this case, the many residents who were or are still affected by the gas and water outages that started two weeks before Thanksgiving.

“We want to get to the right forum and we want to get this case moving forward to get justice for the citizens,” Forbes said Tuesday following the court hearing.

On November, 10, 2023, a water main break from West Virginia American Water filled up tens of miles of gas lines from Mountaineer Gas. At least 1,000 West Side residents dealt with the outages for multiple weeks.

Forbes said there are still people today who have damaged appliances and furnaces. He’s hoping something will eventually be done by the courts that will give them a boost.

“They went through one of the scariest times that you can imagine,” said Forbes. “I think there’s several thousand people but it hasn’t been determined exactly how many are impacted yet.”

The outages prompted much-appreciated responses from the city and some surrounding communities who made food or donated items like clothing or appliances.

Mountaineer Gas and West Virginia American Water are still in a separate legal fight that could end up in a Business Court.