Friday, July 20, 2007

Alabama law firm targets Carthage business

A Montgomery, Ala., law firm with a long history of multi-million dollar victories in lawsuits against major companies, is representing a Carthage woman in a class action lawsuit against Renewable Environmental Services (RES), the company that has come under fire because of continuing odor problems in the city. Plant manager Don Sanders is also named as a defendant.

In a three-count lawsuit moved today at RES' request from Jasper County Circuit Court to federal court, Ms. Sundy claims RES has created a continuing nuisance and has been negligent in the operation of its plant, which converts turkey waste material from the nearby Butterball plant into fuel.

Ms. Sundy is being represented by Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, which has recorded the following victories, according to its website:

-A record $11.8 billion punitive damage jury verdict against Exxon for fraud and breach of contract
-A $150 million verdict against GM for a defective door latch which left an Alabama man a paraplegic
-A $51 million verdict against the pharmaceutical company Merck for problems with its Vioxx product

In the RES lawsuit, Ms. Sundy's lawyers list the checkered history of the company in Carthage:

Since the RES plant began operation, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources has received hundreds of odor complaints against RES, including over 500 in 2004 and 2005 alone. DNR receives far more complaints against RES than any other entity in the entire state of Missouri. From Nov. 1, 2005 through Nov. 30, 2005, there were 75 odor complaints to DNR in all of Missouri. Of these 75 complaints, over 40 were made against RES for odor emissions. From March 1, 2007 through March 15, 2007, there were 52 odor complaints statewide. Over 37 of these complaints were levied against RES for odor emissions. The location of these complaints also indicates that the offensive and noxious odor reaches most of the northern one-half of the city of Carthage.
THe RES plant has repeatedly been cited by the Missouri Air Conservation Commission and Missouri Department of Natural Resources for violating the Missouri Air Conservation Laws.

The lawyers make their case for allowing the lawsuit to proceed as a class action, noting how many people in Carthage are affected by the odor.

In the first count, nuisance, Ms. Sundy claims RES' "negligent, reckless, wanton, intentional, unreasonable emission and release of offensive and noxious odors into the air has resulted in an interference with the use and enjoyment of the properties" of those in the class.

Ms. Sundy says RES violated "a public right to pure air."

In the second count, negligence, Ms. Sundy claims RES failed to "employ safe, prudent, and technologically current techniques to prevent the discharge or emanation or the offensive and noxious odors into the surrounding air." She claims RES failed to warn residents about the odors, and misrepresented to Carthage that no odor would come from the plant's operation.

In the third count, negligence per se, Ms. Sundy says RES had "a duty to ensure the plant did not cause or permit any air pollution."

The lawsuit asks for compensatory damages, punitive damages, interest, attorneys' fees, injunctive relief and costs in bringing the action.

The case was originally filed June 5 in Jasper County Circuit Court.

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