Grain Processing Corp. plant in Muscatine, Iowa.
Image Credit: Kevin E. Schmidt, The Quad-City Times
Miner, Barnhill & Galland is the lead class counsel in this class action suit on behalf of residents of Muscatine, Iowa, against Grain Processing Corporation (GPC), which operates a corn wet-mill in Muscatine. The named plaintiffs are eight residents of the Muscatine neighborhoods closest to the plant who claim that they and their neighbors suffered the brunt of the smoke, odor and haze discharged by the plant, and that this impaired their ability to use and enjoy their homes for years. They also claim that there was technology available to prevent this, but that GPC unreasonably chose not to use it. The plaintiffs sue for nuisance, negligence and trespass, and seek damages for themselves and their neighbors within 1.5 miles of the plant.
In 2014, MBG achieved an important victory by persuading the Iowa Supreme Court that the residents’ claims are not preempted by the federal Clean Air Act. In a unanimous ruling, the Supreme Court held that the residents could pursue their state law claims in court, and rejected arguments that air pollution matters should be left up to administrative agencies.
In 2016, MBG achieved another important victory when Iowa District Court Judge Tom Reidel granted class certification. The court certified the nuisance, trespass and negligence claims for lost use and enjoyment that the plaintiffs assert was caused by pollution from the plant. The class (certified in two subclasses) covers roughly 2,000 households (approximately 4,000 residents) within 1.5 miles of the plant perimeter.