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Mays v. Tennessee Valley Authority

ELR Citation: 41 ELR 20075
Nos. No. 3:09-cv-06, (E.D. Tenn., 01/19/2011)

A district court recommended that individuals' request for class certification in a case against TVA for a coal ash spill in Tennessee be denied. On December 22, 2008, one of the coal ash containment dikes at the TVA's Swan Pond facility failed. As a result, approximately 5.4 million cubic yards of coal ash sludge spilled to an adjacent area of about 300 acres. A total of 592 persons, who allege their person and/or their property have been damaged by the ash spill, filed approximately 55 individual suits with the court. The instant action involves two suits filed by a total of 11 individuals. The individuals, however, failed to satisfy the requirements set forth in Fed. R. Civ. P. Rule 23. They failed to demonstrate impracticality of joinder, typicality of claims or defenses, or that the representative parties will adequately protect the interests of the class. Nor did they demonstrate that the prosecution of separate actions would result in inconsistent standards for the defendants or be dispositive of the interests of non-parties, or that questions of law or fact common to class members predominate over any questions affecting only individual members. The court noted that the claims asserted in these cases are characterized by individual, not common, issues. For just adjudication, these claims therefore require individualized, fact-specific inquiries regarding the existence, nature and extent of each plaintiff’s alleged damages, and the causation of that damage.