BRIDGETON (AP) - Residents living near a smoldering Missouri landfill have filed more lawsuits against a waste disposal company.
More than 34 people are represented in 14 lawsuits that were filed Tuesday against Bridgeton Landfill owner Republic Services. They are suing for damages they claim were caused by foul odors created by an underground fire started at the landfill more than three years ago.
The plaintiffs recently declined a settlement offer of up to $26,250 per household in a class action suit against the company. A federal judge approved the $6.8 million settlement this month, finding the award fair, reasonable and adequate. About three-fourths of residents in the 400 homes closest to the landfill accepted the offer, signing documents that prevent them from filing more odor claims.
Daniel Finney, an attorney representing all 34 residents in the lawsuits, said his clients did not want to release the right to sue in the future. He said he expects other residents to file their own odor lawsuits.
"The money that was offered in the (class action) lawsuit was not enough to settle all past nuisance claims and all future nuisance claims," Finney said. "These people didn't want to give up the ability to sue in the future if things continue as they are or get worse."
Republic Services spokesman Richard Callow called the new lawsuits as "cookie-cutter lawsuits filed by a single attorney whose clients twice rejected a settlement recently accepted by nearly a thousand of their neighbors."
"The judge in the case considered the same objections, rejected them and called that settlement fair," Callow said. "We strongly agree with the judge."
The odors are expected to worsen when construction begins on a barrier between the Bridgeton Landfill and the adjacent West Lake Landfill. Work on the barrier has been delayed while the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are reviewing construction plans.