A local attorney has filed a class-action lawsuit against a Mobile roofing tile manufacturer, saying “noxious odors” have been a nuisance to residents who live near the facility.
The suit, filed by attorney Peter Mackey on behalf of local residents Sarah McDavid, Emily Brown and others, claims the “noxious odors” coming from GAF, located at the northeast corner of Emogene and Florida streets in an otherwise residential and commercial corridor, are “indecent and offensive to the senses and obstruct the free use of their property.” The suit claims there have been 110 complaints about odors from the facility from nearby residents.
“Defendant owed, and continues to owe, a duty to plaintiffs to prevent and abate the interference with the invasion of the private interests of the plaintiffs,” the suit reads. By constructing and then failing to reasonably repair and/or maintain its facility, defendant has intentionally and negligently caused an unreasonable invasion of plaintiffs’ interest in the use and enjoyment of their property.”
The suit claims the facility has at least two boilers, three silo mineral fillers, two roofing lines, a 25,000-gallon asphalt storage tank, a 55,000-gallon asphalt storage tank and a 200,000-gallon asphalt storage tank.
“Neither of the facility’s roofing lines are incorporated with baghouses to reduce emissions and only the smallest asphalt storage tank (the 25,000-gallon tank) is equipped with a thermal oxidizer,” the suit reads.
The suit also claims GAF has failed on multiple occasions to control its emissions. Examples include recent complaints to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management about “noxious odors,” and a 2015 survey by ADEM, which confirmed off-site odors attributed to GAF, according to the lawsuit.
In a statement, the company disputed the claims in the suit and added it complies with all “regulatory permits.”
“We’re committed to providing a safe environment for both our employees and our community, and we will defend ourselves against these baseless claims,” the statement read.
The company also acknowledged its long history in Mobile.
“We’ve been an active and productive member of the community for more than 90 years and have always taken pride in our role in Mobile,” the statement reads. “Not only does the plant provide good jobs, but it also manufactures quality roofing shingles that protect many homes in the area.”
The suit counters this assertion, stating that any “social utility” the facility creates is “outweighed” by the harm caused from the odor.
“The damage defendant caused to plaintiffs’ properties was injurious to health, indecent or offensive to the senses, an obstruction to the free use of property, and interfered with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property, constituting a nuisance,” the lawsuit reads. “Defendant’s substantial and unreasonable interference with Plaintiffs’ use and enjoyment of their property constitutes a nuisance for which Defendant is liable to Plaintiffs for all damages arising from such nuisance, including compensatory, exemplary and punitive relief since defendant’s actions were, and continue to be, intentional, willful, malicious and made with a conscious disregard for the rights of Plaintiffs, entitling Plaintiffs to compensatory and punitive damages.”
In a February news release, the Mobile County Health Department declared GAF was not the source of a “mothball-like odor” in the area of midtown surrounding the facility. Instead, MCHD officials concluded the smell had come from another manufacturer that ceased operations in late 2017.
The plaintiffs in the case are seeking compensatory and punitive damages. They are also asking the court to revoke the company’s permits.