MILLSBORO, Del.- Plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit against Mountaire Farms will have a voice in any agreement between the poultry company and the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.
On Monday, a district court judge granted a "Motion to Intervene" filed by the nearly 700 people suing Mountaire after the company's wastewater upset in 2017. The motion came after DNREC and Mountaire entered a "Consent Decree" in June. The decree included reimbursements to DNREC for expenses occurred while investigating Mountaire Farms. At the time, Mountaire Farms stated the consent decree will resolve the lawsuits filed by DNREC.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs argued the consent decree was a "sweetheart deal" that failed to address long term issues.
"They don't have a great history when it comes to enforcing regulations against this plant," Lawyer Chase Brockstedt told the judge when the motion to intervene was heard in November.
But Devera Scott, representing DNREC, argued against the motion to intervene, saying it allows the poultry company and the state to move forward.
"It doesn't wrap up the violations in a package and resolve them," she said in the November court proceedings. "It's a starting point."
While a district court judge ruled in favor of the motion to intervene, the state court--which heard the motion in November--has not made a ruling yet. WRDE is told a denial is unlikely, however, due to the precedent that has just been set.
When reached by phone on Wednesday, Brockstedt said, "In the spirit of trying this case in court as opposed to the media, we have no comment."
DNREC and Mountaire Farms did not immediately respond to requests for comment. It's worth noting a gag order is in place for the ongoing class action lawsuit against Mountaire Farms.