Decision today on $7bn Shell lawsuit

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An Alabama judge will be asked to decide today if a rural county populated largely by poor farmworkers should be the site of a $7bn class action against Shell Oil and Hoechst Celanese. The case is being brought by residents from Greene County, who say their homes were damaged when water leaked from defective polybutylene plumbing made by the two companies.

A third manufacturer, DuPont has alreadyagreed to an out- of-court settlement, according to lawyers for the plaintiffs.