July 1, 2008

Residents Near Yeast Plant Sue Over Odor

By Lance Griffin, Dothan Eagle, Ala.

Jun. 30--Lawsuits filed in federal and state court by several residents living near a yeast plant north of Headland claim the noxious odor coming from the plant is such a nuisance that it disrupts their quality of life, and are asking the court to award damages in their favor.

The suits were filed earlier this year against Redstar Yeast Plant, located north of Headland on U.S. 431.

"The defendants emitted an odor into the surrounding community which was so offensive that it interfered materially with the ordinary comfort of the plaintiff's existence," states the complaint filed in U.S. District Court on behalf of plaintiffs Macon and Jennifer Richards.

Rhon Jones, an attorney with Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles of Montgomery, said he believed the plant could do more to control the odor it emits.

"We're not trying to run anybody out of town or be anti-business, but we want to be fair," Jones said.

Jones also represents clients in the other suit filed in Henry County District Court by Freddie K. Brannon, Wanda H. Brannon, Edward G. Givens, Jr., Joseph Jezewski, George H. Roselius, Laura A. Roselius, Donald E. Whigham and Patty H. Whigham. The plaintiffs, through Jones, declined comment.

Redstar attorney Lana Alcorn of Lightfoot, Franklin and White in Birmingham said Redstar disagrees that the severity of the odor meets the legal definition of nuisance, which is anything that "substantially interferes with the use and enjoyment of ... property."

"We just don't agree with their assertion," said Alcorn, adding that the suit is still early in the discovery phase.

Alcorn also said Redstar offered to purchase the Richards' property prior to any lawsuit being filed, but they declined.


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