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The Buffalo Creek Disaster: The Story of the Surviviors' Unprecedented Lawsuit

Overview

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 ...
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Overview

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.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A straightforward, suspenseful, and completely absorbing tale that will leave you cheering at the end."—San Francisco Chronicle“Jerry Stern's classic work provides readers with tremendous insight into the causes of the disaster. . . . It is powerful, troubling, and uplifting.” —From the foreword by President Bill Clinton“A shocking, timely book.” —The New York Times Book Review“A fascinating tale of how investigative lawyers work, intermingled with sympathetic portraits of the survivors of the disaster.”—Chicago Tribune“Fascinating reading. . . . An inside look at a history-making case.”—The Boston Globe
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307388490
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/6/2008
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 159,610
  • Product dimensions: 5.16 (w) x 7.99 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Meet the Author

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.
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Table of Contents


Foreword     xi
Prologue     xiii
Part 1
The Call for Help     3
"An Act of God"     10
"When in Doubt, Do the Right Thing"     17
"Mountain Mama"     22
"Take Care of My Baby"     36
"They Wasn't for Sale"     48
"Flagrant Disregard"     64
"Mere Puff and Blow"     69
"Oyez, oyez, oyez"     83
Part 2
"A More Definite Statement"     91
"Pittston Loses Bid for Secrecy"     106
Some Lawyer Stories     114
"What Do You Mean, 'Dam'?"     124
"It Was a Natural Occurrence"     131
"Nowhere Else to Put It"     138
"What About Existing Dams?"     148
"Psychic Impairment"     154
"Danger Note"     168
"Enough"     174
Part 3
"Ambulance Chasing"     181
The Statute of Limitations     185
A Written Settlement Proposal     192
"Flood at Lick Fork"     197
"The Potential for Similar Disasters"     200
"Catch-22"     206
A Settlement Meeting     216
"Absent Plaintiffs"     219
"Unavailable"Witnesses     227
The "Glaring Deductible"     231
"The Dam Was All Right"     238
Strategy     247
Epilogue     271
Afterword     273
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