Land­fill law­suit com­ing to court on April 17

The Standard Journal - - FRONT PAGE - By Kevin Myrick [email protected]­stan­dard­jour­

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.

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