Wed., 9:49am: Car dealer sues factory owner over air pollution

LISBON – A Columbiana automobile dealership claims air pollution from a neighboring metal-casting business damaged its vehicles, according to a lawsuit transferred to Columbiana County Common Pleas Court.

David C. Flynn Inc., doing business as Columbiana Buick Cadillac Chevrolet, is seeking a court order against defendant Col-Pump Co. Inc. in a lawsuit that was originally filed earlier in the year in Columbiana County Municipal Court.

The companies are both located on East Railroad Street in Columbiana, and the lawsuit claims that ever since Col-Pump opened in 1986 it has discharged metal filings and related particulates into the air and onto surrounding properties.

In July 2011, new and used vehicles in the lot were found to be covered with metal particulates and other pollutants allegedly coming from Col-Pump, which the lawsuit claims is due to the company’s failure to properly control its equipment. The lawsuit says Columbiana Buick was forced to hire a specialist who used an expensive technique involving clay bars to remove and restore the paint finish on vehicles.

Although Col-Pump was notified of what was going on, Columbiana Buick said the company failed to prevent it from continuing despite the fact emission-control equipment could be installed to eliminate the problem.

The original lawsuit seeks a court order requiring Col-Pump to cease emitting these emissions, saying the company’s failure to do so not only constitutes a legal trespass but is in “reckless disregard of the lives and health of those persons, including plaintiff, living and working in the area of the factory …”

Also sought was up to $15,000 in damages, which is the maximum amount a municipal court can consider in taking a civil case.

Col-Pump, in its court response, denied the allegations and said it lacked enough information to form an opinion as to the accusations about vehicles covered and damaged by particulates from the plant.

Col-Pump went on to file a counterclaim accusing Columbiana Buick of harassment by filing what the company amounts to a frivolous lawsuit. The company said prior to the original lawsuit being filed on May 31 it contacted the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, and an OEPA representative told them Columbiana Buick wanted Col-Pump “shut down.”

In its counterclaim, Col-Pump’s attorney said the OEPA concluded its investigation into the matter “after failing to discover the presence of any particulates or foreign matter emanating” from the plant or falling onto the dealership property.