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Pennsylvania Court Dismisses Bethlehem Landfill Class-action Lawsuit

Pennsylvania Court Dismisses Bethlehem Landfill Class-action Lawsuit

The court ruled the plaintiffs could not plead a public nuisance because they did not show specific impacts on them.

Judge Chad Kenney of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania dismissed a class action alleging that odors from Waste Connections’ Bethlehem Landfill in Bethlehem, Pa., constituted a nuisance.

Last summer, residents in Freemansburg, Pa., filed a $5 million federal lawsuit against the Bethlehem Landfill operated by Waste Connections, claiming that its alleged odors and pollutants are making them uncomfortable and unable to use the outdoor areas on their properties.

The court ruled that the plaintiffs could not plead a public nuisance regarding the alleged odors because they did not show specific impacts on them beyond the impacts on the public at large. In addition, the court noted the plaintiffs could not plead a private nuisance because private nuisance is limited to claims by neighboring landowners and that the negligence claim failed because the plaintiffs could not identify a duty of the landfill to prevent offsite odors and could not rely on allegations of regulatory violations to establish a standard of care for negligence.

“The company is pleased with the decision dismissing the complaint against Bethlehem Landfill and appreciates the court’s close attention to how landfills are thoroughly governed by state law and permits, not private lawsuits,” said Pat Shea, senior vice president and general counsel of Waste Connections, in a statement. “Waste Connections works diligently to run best-in-class landfills with minimal odors and defends aggressively unwarranted allegations that landfills—which are critical public infrastructure—could somehow be a nuisance.”

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