Wilbros Responds to Federal Civil Suit

Wilbros and associated defendants have now responded to a federal civil suit filed against them by about 100 local residents.

The defendants in the case filed that response Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Gainesville.

In the response, the defendants denied the claims of violations of the federal Air Quality and Emissions Limitations Act, trespass and nuisance made in the suit that the residents, represented by Toccoa attorney Alton Adams, filed earlier this month.

The defendants also claimed in their response that the federal court lacks jurisdiction on the subject matter and that the plaintiffs failed to satisfy conditions necessary to filing a claim under the Clean Air Act.

They also denied that the plaintiffs’ property is subject to damage by the alleged emission of odors, claiming that the alleged damages were caused in whole or part by third parties, and they denied that Wilbros is the source of the offensive odor.

Also, the defendants argued that the plaintiffs’ claims are barred due to state law and pre-emption by Georgia Environmental Protection Division regulations, adding in their response that they have a right to conduct business in accordance with state laws and regulation, even if it generates some odor.

Also, the defendants stated in their response that the plaintiffs have failed to state a claim against defendants upon which relief can be granted.

The defendants have also filed a motion asking the federal court to dismiss the suit and filed a separate response asking the court to deny the plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction.

Approximately 100 residents filed their own lawsuit against Wilbros and associated defendants earlier this month.

Their suit alleges that the Rose Lane facility is 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.  The suit also alleges that the odors are a nuisance under state law and that the odors constitute a trespass on their property that has caused damage.

The suit asks the court to grant an order requiring Wilbros to stop operation until it can operate without emitting odors harmful to the Plaintiffs and can operate in compliance with the Air Quality and Emissions Limitations Act.  In addition, the suit asks the court to grant each plaintiff compensatory damages in an amount not less than $75,000 and punitive damages to each plaintiff not less than $100,000, as well as attorney’s fees.

This is a separate lawsuit than the one filed by Stephens County and others against Wilbros, located on Rose Lane in Stephens County, which is still pending in Stephens County Superior Court.