Landfill lawsuit coming to court on April 17
A judge from outside of Polk County and the Tallapoosa Circuit will be in charge of the lawsuit between Polk County and Waste Industries, based on filings in Superior Court.
She comes into a case that will have a first hearing date on April 17 after suit was filed by Polk County against ETC of Georgia, LLC. The company was bought out many years ago and ended up in the hands of Waste Industries, who operates the Grady Road Landfill.
In last year’s filing, the county sought both fixes to many complaints on the site just off the highway intersection of U.S. 278 and Grady Road.
Along with financial compensation to the tune of $811,552.40 for two specific violations in the contract, stemming from the company overcharging the county on fuel fees, and additionally from underpayments of host fees. Those include interest derived from the overcharges and host fees due.
The suit was originally set to go before Judge Michael Murphy, who retired in October.
Case filings on both sides have been going on since the initial complaint was filed. They include a response from attorneys for Waste Industries, a amended filing of the complaint, requests for discovery, and in most recent weeks a request from the county to allow for unannounced inspections of the site. The April 17 hearing seeks to determine the status of an additional recent filing for an Injunction or Restraining Order filed to abate nuisances at the Grady Road Landfill, such as buzzards and odors that have been a persistent problem.
Attorneys for Waste Industries provided a statement on the discovery in a press release as follows:
“ETC has been attempting through litigation discovery procedures to require the County to identify any specific violations of ETC’s contract, its permits, or applicable law. The County has not yet provided the information ETC has requested,” Matt Martin of Dentons Law Firm said. “The upcoming hearing on April 17 is not a trial on the merits, but rather seeks to impose a 90-day trial period during which certain remedial measures would be attempted. ETC offered to discuss these remedial measures with the County, in lieu of a hearing, but the County refused. ETC intends to file its written response to the requested relief this Friday.”
Polk County officials were sought for comment on the
forthcoming hearing, but did not wish to make a statement on pending litigation.
Waste Industries Regional Vice President Jason Zepp also provided the following statement on the record as well:
“ETC of Georgia has been in partnership with the Polk County Commission since 2004 when the County turned operations over to ETC due to substantial operating costs, debt, and increased burden to Polk County taxpayers. Since then, ETC have maintained not only to be best-in-class landfill operations, but also remained a responsible corporate citizen. It is unfortunate, the County Commission chose to spend its time and taxpayers’ dollars on an expensive lawsuit with broadly stated claims fail to identify any specific issues or breaches.”
The statement continued: “The Georgia Environmental Protection Division inspects the landfill randomly, and on a regular basis. The site consistently scores in the 95 to 100 percent range. We are confident that our operations
meet or exceed all State and Federal regulatory requirements, as well as our contractual obligations to the citizens of Polk County. It has always been ETC’s preference to work these issues out cooperatively rather than through the expensive and slow-moving legal process.”
Adele Grubbs, who retired in 2016 from the bench in Cobb County Superior Court, will be sitting in on the forthcoming arguments in the Tallapoosa Circuit. Grubbs became the first female assistant district attorney hired in the Cobb Judicial Circuit, and later served as a Juvenile Court judge before she became a Superior Court Judge in 2001.
She’s still serving as a senior judge in the Cobb Superior Court after a 15-year career on the bench and comes into the Tallapoosa Circuit with 50 years of legal experience.
Grubbs was appointed to oversee the case in January by Judge Ralph Van Pelt Jr., who is the administrative judge for the Seventh Judicial Administrative Circuit.