CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Putnam County is gearing up for a lengthy class action trial that will require additional staff and support at the courthouse for months.
The case, labeled Bibb vs. Monsanto Company, will enter its first phase Sept. 6 with jury selection.
But already, several hundred county residents were called in the initial cast for jurors and asked to report to Winfield High School last Monday. The pool was asked to complete a survey to aid in a first round of elimination.
The case involves alleged contamination to properties in the Nitro area and injuries to people who lived near the Monsanto plant or attended school full-time near the plant between 1948 and the present.
Putnam Circuit Judge O.C. Spaulding will preside over the case, which he said would last at least two months. Others have estimated it could take up to six months.
"There's never been a trial lasting that long here, not since I've been on the bench," Spaulding said. "Not even close.
"And it's the first class action to be held in Putnam County, ever," he said.
The logistics of such a lengthy trial, involving many attorneys, staffers, plaintiffs and spectators will require some accommodations.
"While I'm doing Monsanto, the Supreme Court has appointed Judge James Holliday to handle my regular docket," the judge said. "I didn't want my normal cases to stop."