Pearland residents push for day in court, file suit against Blue Ridge landfill

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A group of eight Pearland residents have filed a claim against a nearby landfill in court over “noxious odors” that they said have reduced property values and interfered with their quality of life.

The four couples live within three miles of the landfill in the Shadow Creek Ranch area in west Pearland, the closest of whom lives less than a mile from the Fresno-based Blue Ridge Landfill located off FM 528. The plaintiffs have sued for more than $5 million in damages for themselves and 100 or more “class members”, according to the class action complaint. Those class members are households who have filed odor complaints against the landfill with the plaintiff’s counsel, according to court documents.

Although the residents filed their court petition in November, Blue Ridge Landfill was not served its legal summons until Jan. 13. A pretrial hearing is set for March 10. The residents are asking for a trial by jury in their petition.

“[Blue Ridge Landfill TX LP] intentionally, recklessly, willfully, wantonly, maliciously, grossly and negligently failed to properly construct, repair, maintain and/or operate its landfill, and caused the invasion of Plaintiffs’ property by noxious odors on frequent, intermittent and ongoing reoccurring occasions,” the eight Pearland residents alleged in a complaint filed in November.

Blue Ridge landfill filed its response to the complaint on Jan. 31, denying the vast majority of the residents’ points and arguing the appropriateness of certifying the lawsuit as a class action, according to court documents.

Four threshold requirements are weighed to establish class certification by the court: numerosity, commonality and typicality of the claims as well as adequacy in that the class representatives will protect the interests of the class, according to the federal rules for civil procedures.

The landfill owner’s also claimed that the residents “have not suffered any legally compensable injury,” according to court documents.

“Blue Ridge denies all allegations of wrongdoing and damages as alleged in the complaint, but if in fact plaintiffs did sustain damages, such damages were caused by the acts or omissions of persons, entities and/or third parties for whose conduct Blue Ridge is not legally responsible,” said Blue Ridge in its response on Jan. 31.

Attorneys for both the landfill and residents were not immediately available for comment.

Blue Ridge Landfill is a subsidiary of Delaware-based Republic Services Inc. It was acquired by Republic in 2008 after its acquisition of Delaware-based Allied Waste Inc. in 2008, according to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

The lawsuit comes after the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality cited the landfill for a “nuisance odor” in October and for failing to perform surface emissions monitoring in accordance with regulatory law, according to a Jan. 3 citation.

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