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Freedom’s Gary Southern no longer seeking compensation

By Andrea Lannom, Legal affairs writer

Freedom Industries President Gary Southern has withdrawn his motion to get paid, seeking to minimize costs to the company’s bankruptcy estate and to end “unfounded allegations and ceaseless vilification” of him for the Jan. 9 chemical leak.

Southern filed his motion earlier last month, seeking to be paid for his work during Freedom’s bankruptcy hearings. His annual salary was set at $230,000 when he joined the company full time in January.

Since then, the U.S. Trustee filed an objection, taking issue with Southern’s request for his legal expenses to be paid as an administrative expense.

The Committee of Unsecured Creditors also filed an objection, taking issue with the entire motion.

The court originally was scheduled to hear his motion in an April 18 hearing.

Represented by Steven L. Thomas of Kay Casto & Chaney, Southern filed notice Friday that he is withdrawing his motion for compensation for work done after the Jan. 9 chemical spill, which overcame the West Virginia American Water system and tainted the water supply for about 300,000 residents.

The notice states by withdrawing, Southern isn’t conceding to filed objections. In fact, he said Freedom’s bylaws support his claim for legal expenses as part of his employment contract.

He also said his employment contract has not been terminated, noting the creditors committee’s suggestion that Freedom fire him.

Friday’s notice states the reason he wants to withdraw his application is to “end the unfounded allegations and ceaseless vilification of him for an incident that occurred a mere six working days after he became the president of the debtor, for which he bears no fault.”

The notice also says he seeks to minimize the cost to Freedom’s bankruptcy estate.

“Thus, even though Mr. Southern spent countless hours working to remediate the debtor’s many problems that arose after January 9,” the notice states, he could have walked away “as many others did.”

The notice also said Southern is entitled to be paid and the U.S. Trustee and Freedom have conceded to that.

Contact writer Andrea Lannom at Andrea.Lannom@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-5148. Follow her at www.twitter.com/AndreaLannom.


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