How Adverse Environmental Conditions and Pollution Can Be Related to Real Estate Law

by Isaac Benmergui, Esq on January 30, 2014

It’s almost taken for granted that certain chemicals, otherwise never considered hazardous – such as Trichloroethylene (TCE) – could drastically affect a property. This is the case for one Asphalt Contractors, Inc. (ACI), a company facing contamination in their establishment due to the dumping of such chemicals by the Alabama Department of earthTransportation (ALDOT). This is, however, a more interesting story than your basic black-and-white oil rigger or two-faced company overtly dumping hazardous waste into someone’s backyard. Consider the facts:

First and foremost, ACI addressed an issue with all kinds of degreasers, cleaning agents and solvents, such as TCE, dumped into the shallow groundwater of North Montgomery. This really wouldn’t have mattered to ACI much except for the fact that the groundwater was pumped into a dewatering pond, to a transfer pond and then to a south pond, which a portion of that last pond is actually part of ACI’s property. There lies the issue. At the time of the filing of the case, deliberations began, arguments were heard, and the trial court actually decided in favor of ACI.

ALDOT, though, petitioned for a writ of mandamus, directing the Circuit Court to reconsider a motion to dismiss ACI’s claims. With a complaint asserting actual property trespass – which, yes, that can be a relevant debate right there – and inverse condemnation, that calls for major complexity. ACI even requested full-market value compensation for its property – all because of cleaning solutions dumped on their grounds.

In a nutshell, both the Supreme Court accepted in part the writ of mandamus, stating that the trial court made an error in denying the motion to dismiss ALDOT as an actual party to the action, that the trial court did not err in denying the motion to inverse condemnation and that the trial court did properly refuse dismissal of ACI’s claim for injunctive relief. As you can see, plainly – the environment and how we treat it doesn’t only affect our earth, but our corporations, too!

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