Two lawsuits over IEI fire assigned to Harrison County judge

PARKERSBURG — A pair of lawsuits filed over the 2017 fire that destroyed a plastics warehouse in the former Ames shovel plant have been assigned to a judge from Harrison County.

Court documents show the suit neighboring businesses filed against Intercontinental Export and Import Plastics, other businesses in the Naik group of companies and owner Saurabh Naik — as well as DowDuPont Inc., which had produced some of the material stored at the site — was reassigned to 15th Circuit Judge Thomas Bedell. So was a suit filed by West Virginia agencies against the Naik companies to recover the $1.5 million the state spent fighting the fire.

Chief Wood County Circuit Court Judge J.D. Beane said the cases went to Bedell under a 2017 order from the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals after Beane and Judges Robert Waters and Jason Wharton asked if they should recuse themselves from hearing three suits filed in the wake of the fire.

The state’s highest court agreed they should since the impact of the fire and who might have been affected as members of the potential class were not known, he said.

Although the cases are assigned to Bedell, he will hold hearings and other proceedings in Wood County, Beane said.