The Iowa Supreme Court confirms a district court ruling that allows residents living near a Muscatine grain plant to go together in a lawsuit.
The lawsuit began in 2012 with eight residents who lived next to the Grain Processing Corportation plant in Muscatine, who said company did nothing to prevent the material that came out of the plant and into the air during the milling process.
They says the emissions created a fog and odor over their property, while dropping fine material out of the air that came from the plant. They say the company was aware of the pollution and the need to update equipment to improve air quality. The district court approved a class action lawsuit, dividing it into two classes, one for those who lived next to the plant, and one for those who lived in “close proximity.” That pushed the total residents who could be involved to around 4,000.
GPC fought the class action status, saying that there was not enough in common with each resident’s claim to bring the lawsuit forward as a group, and doing so would violate their due process. The Iowa Supreme Court ruled there are common questions in each residents argument that are at the heart of the case and the class action status should stand.
Here’s the full ruling: GPC class action ruling PDF
GPC released this statement on the Iowa Supreme Court ruling:
GPC is disappointed the Iowa Supreme Court has allowed a class certification to be upheld. We will review the ruling in its entirety and determine our best legal strategy going forward.
GPC’s takes its commitment to environmental sustainability very seriously. In fact, GPC has worked diligently to lower emissions by making investments in a new and fully operational $83 million feed dryer house, eliminating coal as a fuel source along with other ongoing sustainability projects.
These improvements put GPC at the top of their industry peers and below the legal limits required by the EPA and DNR. In fact, data provided by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources demonstrates GPC’s efforts that significantly reduced sulfur dioxide, lead, and other emissions.
The Court’s decision has negative ramifications for large and small businesses throughout our state who meet stringent permit requirements but are still subjected to lawsuits from neighbors who have moved near those businesses. GPC will vigorously defend this lawsuit on its own behalf and for other businesses.
GPC is proud of its continuous contributions to the economic and environmental wellbeing of Muscatine. GPC is focused on being a responsible corporate citizen and remains committed to their employees, customers, and the community of Muscatine.
(This story was updated at 11:15 to add the GPC statement)