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Class Action Suit Against Milford Water Company Settled

Just as a suit filed against the Milford Water Company in the aftermath of the so-called "boil water" incident was about to go to trial in Worcester Superior Court earlier this month, it was settled out of court. Judicial action is expected next month to approve the terms of the settlement.

The suit was filed in September, 2009 by seven Milford residents: Paul and Bethany Bennett of 4 Myrtle St.; James Mello, Julie Garny, and Lucy Mello and of 8 Otis St.; and, George and Elizabeth Marotta of 162 Congress St. Lucy Mello is identified in the court filing as a child. They asked that the suit be expanded to become a class action against the privately owned utility.

Manager David Condrey confirmed the terms of the settlement as:

• $225,000 to be divided equally among all who were Milford Water Company customers during the August, 2009 water use crisis. Condrey estimates this sum to be given as a credit of about $28 per customer on future bills;

• $30,000 to be divided among the six adult plaintiffs and $5,000 to be given to Lucy Mello;

• Paying the plaintiffs' legal fees of approximately $780,000; and

• Building a second new well at the Clark's Island well field in Milford Pond. One recently installed by the utility is yielding about 340 gallons per minute, Condrey said.

None of the costs involved in the settlement – including the water company's own legal fees totaling about $500,000 – may be passed along to customers in future rate increase requests, Condrey explained. Instead, the costs will be taken from the utility's profit this calendar year and next year, he said.

"Milford Water Company is pleased to enter into a negotiated settlement agreement related to events that occurred in 2009," Condrey said in a prepared statement. "After more than 100 years of nearly perfect service, Milford Water lost the trust and confidence of many of our customers and the elected officials of the Town of Milford. We have been working diligently over the past four a half years to regain that trust, and our effort continues. We are hopeful that this settlement will allow our affected customers to have closure from the water quality events of 2009."

The 2009 lawsuit filing stated that: "The Plaintiffs suffered personal injuries including diarrhea and stomach cramps, known health effects of water contaminated by E. coli and coliform bacteria, during and after the week of August 5, 2009... In addition to suffering the above personal injuries each of the Plaintiffs suffered property damage including damage to their household plumbing such as water filters on faucet filtration systems and house filters; damage to appliances; increased expenses for purchasing bottled water during the period the Boil Water Order was in effect; increased electricity costs associated with complying with The Boil Water Order; increased costs in purchasing alternative beverages; costs associated with medicines; increased expenses associated with remediation through flushing their pipes causing increased water usage; increased costs associated with plumbing and appliance maintenance; and all costs of cover including incidental expenses."


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