Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Mountaire Farms
Posted: Jun 13, 2018 9:59 PM
By Mallory Metzner
(MILLSBORO, Del.) - The Delaware law firm of Baird Mandalas Brockstedt, LLC in association with the Maryland firm of Schochor & Staton, P.A. filed a class action lawsuit listing multiple counts against Mountaire Farms this morning. Mountaire is being accused of including negligence, recklessness, trespassing, and unjust enrichment.
Chase Brockstedt opened up the press conference by stating, "The filing this morning was the result of countless hours of investigation and research over the last six months to understand the scope and the severity of the contamination caused by Mountaire's wrongful discharge of its wastewater and sludge and its air emissions."
Mountaire disposes of waste from its 9 million gallon septic tanks on four croplands and 1 forest by irrigating more than 900 acres of croplands. Sludge disposal is applied across 300 acres of forests and croplands in the Millsboro area. These septic tanks are kept uncovered and were emptying into a lagoon before being sprayed out into the fields.
The two law firms allege that the disposal of billions of gallons of highly contaminated wastewater and liquified sludge has caused nitrates and other contaminants to spread for miles throughout the Millsboro area. While this case is directed at the Millsboro plant, the Selbyville plant is indirectly affected just by sending its waste to Millsboro.
A class action brings everyone together for judicial economy. Instead of having 700 individual cases, all of the residents affected by contaminiated drinking water, health concerns, and air pollution are coming together to demand Mountaire stop poullting the Millsboro area and compensate those who are affected.
According to the press release by Baird Mandalas Brockstedt on June 13th, 2018, The lawsuit intends to require Mountaire to: stop polluting the Millsboro area, overhaul its wastewater treatment plant and discharge processes, provide clean and safe drinking water to affected residents, remediate the groundwater and clean up its mess, compensate affected residents for their loss of property values, and compensate those suffering sicknesses caused by the exposure to elevated nitrates, hydrogen sufide, ammonia, and other contaminants.
Mountaire's response to the press conference is that it was a publicity stunt by a group of lawyers hoping to cash in on a problem that has already been solved by a consent decree with DNREC. Mountaire says, "as we have stated many times previously, elevated levels of nitrates in Sussex County is a very common, widespread environmental condition that has existed for many decades, way before the arrival of Mountaire and certainly did not occur just in the past seventeen years."
What has been contaminated can't be undone, but Mountaire can start meeting the limits for nitrate levels moving forward. This class action lawsuit is ordering a $150 million remediation process. Compensating residents could cost well into the hundred millions.
DNREC says once Mountaire's wastewater treatment plant upgrades are complete, its shallow production wells will be relocated and a net reduction of nitrates in the ground water will eventually be reached. Mountaire expects to be served a copy of this lawsuit soon and will vigorously defend the allegations in court as well as thoroughly question the alleged experts. A further comment can be expected once they've reviewed the entire complaint.