October 19, 2021

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October 18, 2021

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Iowa Trial Court Certifies Class of 4,000 Residents in Corn Mill Nuisance Suit

In a victory for toxic tort class action plaintiffs, an Iowa trial court certified a class covering approximately 4,000 residents who alleged property damages due to air emissions from a nearby corn milling plant.  See Freeman v. Grain Processing Corporation, No. LACV021232 (Muscatine Cty. Dist.. Ct. Oct. 28, 2015).

Following a 2014 decision in which the Iowa Supreme Court found the federal Clean Air Act does not preempt state common law claims, Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Class Certification, seeking to certify a class of residents who lived within 1.5 miles of Defendant’s facility and who alleged lost-use-and-enjoyment damages attributable to emissions from Defendant’s operations. The Court granted Plaintiffs' motion finding that they had met the requirements necessary to certify a class in Iowa. 

Specifically, the Court found the class to be sufficiently numerous, with approximately 4,000 members. It found that Defendant’s conduct raised common issues of fact and law, such as whether Defendant employed antiquated pollution control technology and whether Defendant knew that it was creating a nuisance to the community. 

The Court also found that Plaintiffs had proposed a manageable and efficient plan for adjudicating their claims by outlining various stages of litigation that would resolve specific questions of fact. The court found that, while the damages inquiry would be particularized, there were a number of issues that were common to all of the claims such as the application of Iowa’s objective nuisance standard of liability and causation. 

Finally, the Court found that the class representative “fairly and adequately” protected the interests of the class. The court found that the class representative retained experienced class counsel and that any concern over waiver of issues or conflicts among class participants based on the adequacy of the class representative could be resolved by limiting the scope of the judgment or by allowing putative class members to out of the class.

© 2021 Beveridge & Diamond PC National Law Review, Volume VI, Number 43
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About this Author

Anthony G. Papetti Environmental Litigation Attorney Beveridge & Diamond New York, NY
Associate

Anthony’s practice focuses on general environmental litigation and automotive regulatory compliance.

For the past two years, his experience has been extensively involved in the Department of Justice-appointed Independent Corporate Compliance Monitor and Audit matter in connection with the Volkswagen AG diesel emissions proceedings. During this experience, Anthony has gained tremendous insight into complex corporate compliance management systems and the automotive product development process, including both domestic and international vehicle emissions certification...

202-789-6042
Daniel M. Krainin Environmental Litigation Attorney Beveridge & Diamond New York, NY
Principal

Dan deploys more than two decades of environmental litigation experience to resolve clients’ legal and business challenges.

Primarily focused on environmental and toxic tort litigation, Dan helps clients successfully resolve groundwater contamination, hazardous waste site remediation, natural resource damages, permit defense and product-related matters. He enjoys using his skills as a litigator to help clients solve environmental problems.

Among his many wins, Dan successfully led a team that defeated an emergency challenge to a permit that Dan’s client needed to continue its...

212-702 5417
Graham C. Zorn Environmental, Toxic Tort, Products Liability Litigation Attorney Beveridge & Diamond Washington, DC
Principal

Graham Zorn focuses his practice on environmental, toxic tort, and products liability litigation.

His representative experience includes extensive work on a series of complex products liability and toxic tort cases related to alleged groundwater, and litigation over lead in drinking water. He has represented individual businesses, trade associations, and municipalities in litigation, as well as in compliance, enforcement, and counseling matters involving the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, CERCLA and other state and federal environmental statutes. He also counsels domestic and...

202-789-6024
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