Miner, Barnhill & Galland Achieves Class Certification Milestone in Iowa Pollution Lawsuit

Iowa Supreme Court upholds class certification ruling in Freeman v. Grain Processing Corporation

CHICAGO--()--In a landmark environmental law ruling in Freeman v. Grain Processing Corporation, the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously upheld class certification of Iowa state law nuisance, negligence and trespass claims against a Muscatine corn wet mill. This is the second unanimous ruling from the Supreme Court since the case was filed. (In 2014, the Court unanimously rejected the Company’s defense that the plaintiffs were preempted by the federal Clean Air Act, holding that Iowa citizens had a right to pursue their traditional Iowa claims in state court.)

Lead counsel for the class, Sarah Siskind and Scott Entin of Miner, Barnhill & Galland, P.C. (MBG), joined the Larew Law Office on the case in 2012 on behalf of eight named plaintiffs and thousands of their neighbors. The plaintiffs claim that persistent smoke, odor and haze from the Grain Processing Corporation (GPC) plant interfered, for years, with their ability to use and enjoy their properties. The Supreme Court ruling allows them, finally, to move their case to a classwide trial. Read the full Iowa Supreme Court opinion here.

The plaintiffs’ claims are based on Iowa law, which authorizes private money damages for lost use and enjoyment of property. The class, originally certified by Muscatine County Judge Thomas Reidel in 2015, includes nearly 2,000 households within 1.5 miles from the plant, or roughly 4,000 neighbors.

“The ruling gives the Muscatine neighbors the green light they’ve been waiting for to get their claims to trial,” Siskind explained. “It also demonstrates, for citizens everywhere, the effectiveness of the class action as a tool for social justice.”

Siskind said, “By allowing the neighbors to combine claims and combine resources, the class action allows them to do what they likely could not do alone – use representative witnesses and scientific evidence to prove neighborhood-wide harms, and proffer formulaic methods for measuring damages.”

Today, the Supreme Court sent the case back to Judge Reidel, who will set the timetable for preparing the case for trial.

Siskind and Entin of MBG, with James Larew and Claire Diallo of the Larew Law Office, are the residents’ class counsel.

About Miner, Barnhill & Galland, P.C. (MBG): Founded in 1971, MBG represents a broad range of individual, government, non-profit and corporate clients with offices in Chicago, Ill., and Madison, Wis. MBG has been fighting for the public interest since its founding. It is nationally known for its class action practice in civil rights, employment rights, voting rights, predatory lending, and more, as well as for its complex litigation practice against government fraud. The firm’s growing environmental practice includes individual and organizational representations, regulatory enforcement, and private law class actions to protect the environment, people and their property from corporate polluters.

Distinguished MBG alumni include a MacArthur Foundation fellow, several law professors at leading American universities, and President Barack Obama. For more information, visit www.LawMBG.com.

Contacts

Miner, Barnhill & Galland, P.C.
Gadiel Castro-Zapata
312-751-1170
gcastro@lawmbg.com

Release Summary

Miner, Barnhill & Galland: Iowa Supreme Court unanimously upholds class certification in landmark environmental case Freeman v. Grain Processing Corp. Wet corn mill pollution impacts 4,000 residents.

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Contacts

Miner, Barnhill & Galland, P.C.
Gadiel Castro-Zapata
312-751-1170
gcastro@lawmbg.com