First, REEF had asked for the case to be stayed because the company is in bankruptcy. King determined that ADEM was not seeking monetary damages against the company but “is seeking an abatement of a potential pollution risk. The court determines that an automatic stay provided by Section 362 of the bankruptcy court does not apply to the case.”
Secondly, REEF had filed a cross complaint naming the Sylacauga Utilities Board in the suit, basically alleging that the board’s refusal to accept any more waste water from the facility made them unable to do their jobs properly.
King dismissed the cross-claim in a ruling Tuesday morning.
A scheduling order was also entered Tuesday morning.
The plaintiff, ADEM, now has 90 days from the date of the order to complete discovery and file any amendments to the pleadings; the defendant, REEF, has 120 days to do the same. Most motions will also have to be filed with the court within the 120 day time limit.
The parties will also have 120 days to exchange witness lists and any documents that may be introduced at trial. ADEM now has 60 days to announce any expert witnesses they intend to call and REEF has 120 days to do the same. ADEM will then have 30 days to depose any of REEF’s experts.
REEF’s facility is located on Twin Street just outside Sylacauga, in the area commonly referred to as the Mill Village. While the plant was operational, residents of area complained of horrible, sickening smells emanating from large holding tanks. The odors were particularly bad in the morning and at night, and some residents reported headaches and respiratory problems as a result. The utilities board stopped accepting water from REEF because they believed it was interfering with their ability to stay in compliance with their ADEM licensing requirements.
REEF is also being sued by the city of Sylacauga and at least two private citizens.
REEF has failed to come into compliance with ADEM air and water standards, and currently owes the department more than $492,000 in fines.
Contact Chris Norwood at firstname.lastname@example.org.