How many people are mad at Cedar Grove? A lot. A whole lot. That much is obvious from the fact that two lawsuits were filed yesterday against Cedar Grove Composting only weeks after two other suits hit the company. All four suits are demanding redress for what they say is the stink caused by Cedar Grove at its Everett and Maple Valley facilities, an issue we wrote about in a November cover story.
But apparently even more people want to hold Cedar Grove accountable in court. The tack taken by the latest group is to file class action lawsuits. According to a press release sent out by plaintiffs' lawyers Michael Withey of Seattle and Steven Liddle of Detroit, the suits represent all residents within a four-mile radius of either the Everett or Maple Valley facility. The only exception are the plaintiffs named in the previously-filed suits, which are specifically written out of the class in the complaints filed in King and Snohomish County Superior Courts.
Speaking with Seattle Weekly, Hageman says he advised his clients against going the class action route in large part because of the delays involved. Before class action litigation can proceed, the proposed class has to be certified. Withey and Liddle couldn't be reached yesterday to explain their strategy.
The class action suits specifically name 16 plaintiffs. How many others might be out there, once you eliminate the the nearly 500 plaintiffs in the previous suits, remains to be seen. "We know from our investigation that these odors are not merely affecting a small group of residents," Winfrey says in the press release. "There are potentially thousands of homeowners who have suffered daily from these odors."
The suit charges Cedar Grove with "intentionally, recklessly, willfully, wantonly, maliciously and negligently" failing to control odors at their facilities despite numerous complaints. As a result, the the complaints allege, residents have had their property invaded by "pollutants, horrific odors and air contaminants."
The litigation seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages as well as an order requiring defendant to fix the problem. Cedar Grove spokesperson Susan Thoman said yesterday that the company had not yet had time to review the complaints, but that the company was "committed to being a good neighbor."
Here are the complaints filed yesterday: