Federal Judge Dismisses Wilbros Lawsuit Filed by Adams

January 23, 2014

The news from the EPD regarding Wilbros comes on the same day that a federal judge ruled against local residents suing Wilbros in U.S. District Court.

This week, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Story dismissed a lawsuit filed against Wilbros in federal court by about 100 local residents represented by Toccoa attorney Alton Adams.

Their suit alleged that the Rose Lane facility was violating the federal Air Quality and Emissions Limitations Act by being a major source of one or more hazardous air pollutants listed in the act.

It also alleged that the odors are a nuisance and a trespass under state law.

In his ruling dismissing the suit, Judge Story said that while the plaintiffs alleged that Wilbros exceeded the emissions limits of regulated pollutants under the Clean Air Act, they failed to specify any standards or pollutants emitted and failed to provide adequate notice prior to filing the suit as required by the Clean Air Act.

Judge Story also ruled that while the plaintiffs argued that Wilbros never had a permit to operate under the Clean Air Act or the Georgia Air Quality Act, the Wilbros facility is not among the types of facilities required to have such a permit under the Clean Air Act, so the plaintiffs cannot sue on that fact.

As for the state law claims, the judge said the federal court lacks jurisdiction over those issues, which he writes should be handled in state court.

The judge’s dismissal could be appealed to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

However, in an e-mail to his clients, Adams said the time, work, and effort in pursuing an appeal cannot be handled by him as their attorney.

He added the outcome of an appeal would be several months and there is no guarantee that the order of dismissal could be overturned.

Adams said he was anticipating this ruling based on how long it took and adds it has been a distinct pleasure to represent all of the plaintiffs.

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