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Lawsuit Against Glatfelter Dismissed

Chillicothe, Ohio, USA 09 April 2016 -- (From the Gazette) -- Late last year, attorneys representing Glatfelter in its defense against a $5 million class action lawsuit brought by several residents living near the Chillicothe paper mill argued that the lawsuit was long on claims and short on facts.

As a result, the company asked the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio to dismiss the suit. According to a search of court records, a decision filed Jan. 15 granted that dismissal.

The lawsuit was filed June 29 on behalf of the class by the Columbus law firm of Kitrick, Lewis & Harris Co. and Detroit firm Liddle & Dublin P.C. It claimed the paper mill releases noxious odors and air particulates onto the plaintiffs' property that cause property damage through trespass, negligence, gross negligence and nuisance.

It also claimed residents could not get the full enjoyment of their properties because of odors and that the company was negligent in maintaining the facility.

Glatfelter's lawyers said the claims in the lawsuit were vague and lacked facts to support them. The court, in its opinion, addressed the trespass, negligence and nuisance complaints individually.

On the trespass claim, the court said an odor by itself does not constitute a trespass and that the plaintiffs had to clearly show how air particulates represent a trespass by causing damage to the property.

"Plaintiffs fail to plead any facts -- such as how the particulates interfered with their use and enjoyment of the land or caused physical damage -- that would make those conclusory allegations plausible," the opinion states in dismissing the trespass claim.

A qualified nuisance claim, according to the court, finds a basis in negligence. Again, the court found the lawsuit did not back claims that the facility was improperly constructed or maintained with any facts.

"The allegations arguably could not be more vague," the opinion states. "Plaintiffs fail to identify what action Defendant took or failed to take that was negligent and fail to identify any condition that creates an unreasonable risk of harm which was negligently maintained by Defendant. Further, Plaintiffs fail to plead any facts to support an allegation that Defendant's maintenance of such a condition was negligent."

As part of dismissing the nuisance claim, the court also said the Plaintiffs did not show any facts to show how their ability to enjoy their properties was affected or how physical discomfort was created.

Finally, the negligence and gross negligence claims were dismissed on the same grounds - failure to show facts in the complaint.

An attempt to reach Mark Kitrick with Kitrick, Lewis & Harris Co. on Friday to see if the suit would be refiled was unsuccessful.


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