Ash Spill: Who Has Movie Rights?

At least eight lawsuits have been filed against TVA over the Kingston Steam Plant ash spill, by law firms from San Francisco to Birmingham, including a group fronted by Erin Brockovich, played by Julia Roberts in the movies.

Locally, class action specialist Gordon Ball has filed a suit on behalf of the landowners along the Emory and Clinch rivers. Ball is using the template of his successful suits against a North Carolina paper mill's pollution of the Pigeon River on behalf of Tennessee land owners. Some of the other suits are taking a broader approach on behalf of all Roane County residents and will argue potential illness and long-term health damages, a much harder standard of proof.

The suits will likely wind up in the lap of U.S. District Judge Tom Varlan, of Knoxville, who will have to sort out the claims and consolidate the suits into some sort of order.