A proposed class action lawsuit that targeted a Waste Connections-owned landfill in Lower Saucon Township, Pennsylvania, was dismissed March 30 after plaintiffs made clear that the odor issues they were attributing to the landfill were instead originating from the nearby Bethlehem Wastewater Treatment Plant instead of the IESI Bethlehem Landfill.
Robin and Dexter Baptiste of Freemansburg, Pennsylvania, filed a class action lawsuit against the landfill in 2018, stating its odors and pollutants were affecting area residents’ daily lives.
However, lawyers for Waste Connections noted that Robin Baptiste revealed during her March 5 deposition that she had mistaken the wastewater treatment plant that was located a half-mile from her home for the landfill.
According to The Morning Call, “She identified the wastewater treatment plant in an aerial photo of her neighborhood as the landfill and testified that the facility was the source of the odors. She also testified she was unaware of any other smells in the neighborhood.”
“The Baptistes’ counsel, highly experienced waste lawyers, should have reviewed these statements and considered the possibility that the nearby sewage plant was the culprit, triggering at least a look at a map and a confirmatory conversation with their clients, which would have quickly cleared things up,” the landfill’s lawyers said, according to The Morning Call.
“This is a well-run facility that utilizes state-of-the-art landfill technology. Our own personnel live in the community and the landfill takes pride in being a good neighbor,” Robert McReynolds, division vice president at Waste Connections, said.
The plaintiffs’ claims were dismissed in their entirety with prejudice and it was ruled that each side pay their own court costs.
In a statement, the National Waste and Recycling Association (NWRA) applauded the decision, and said it could serve as an example for other waste companies when defending nuisance complaints.
“This is an important reminder to NWRA members defending nuisance and other mass tort claims to always test the evidence,” stated NWRA Chief Counsel & Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Jim Riley. “Members of the business community often will agree to pay large settlements to plaintiffs’ law firms just to make them go away even if they are not at fault, but this only fuels more lawsuits. We are putting these firms on notice—not only will the waste and recycling industry challenge dubious claims when they are brought, but it will push for sanctions against these firms when there is evidence they have knowledge that responsibility lies elsewhere.”