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More people jumping on New Indy class action lawsuit

Now, people living 30 miles from the plant in four counties have taken action.
Published: May. 28, 2021 at 6:25 PM EDT
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CATAWBA, S.C. (WBTV) -There is a new lawsuit against New Indy Containerboard that was filed recently.

WBTV has been telling you about the paper mill in York County that the Department of Health and Control says is stinking up neighborhoods with a rotten egg smell.

Now, people living 30 miles from the plant in four counties have taken action – with a class-action lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims New Indy is putting profits over people.

This class action is called a “nuisance” action.

It means the stench is disrupting the lives of as many as one point six million people living near the mill.

That 30-mile radius touches from about Uptown Charlotte all the way past York South Carolina.

The lawsuit claims New Indy is polluting the air with hydrogen sulfide, sending the rotten egg stink into homes.

It goes on to call New Indy reckless, willful and wanton for its handling of the smells.

The class action asks for punitive damages and money for the injuries people have suffered, like coughing, migraines, and other health concerns.

A big concern about people living in the area is property values.

Lawyer Gary Mauney, who is just one part of a two-lawyer team on this suit, says the money will help buffer any property value losses.

All of this comes in month five, 17,000 complaints and two orders later.

”It’s been pretty much every day for the last three or four months,” said Jill Katsoulis.

Katsoulis said she wants the smell done. She is a part of a community group trying to get that done.

”I don’t know what other neighborhoods are doing but our neighborhood seems very pro getting this fixed,” said Katsoulis.

Mauney is encouraged by the community groups and the relationship some bigger ones are trying to build with New Indy to get this issue solved.

Mauney encourages community groups like Katsoulis to continue organizing and building a relationship with the company. However, he is also taking their complaints to the courts.

”This is exactly why the class action rule was invented,” Mauney said. “If New Indy had gone to the community and worked with them, we probably wouldn’t be here today.”

Mauney, and his South Carolina lawyer teammate, filed this class action lawsuit against New Indy.

The suit uses evidence from both the Environmental Protection Agency and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control to make its case.

Both agencies have said multiple times that New Indy is the culprit.

“You don’t have the right to take your desire to make a profit and harm someone else in order to do that. And so that’s what we’re trying to stop,” said Mauney.

Mauney said New Indy used cheaper methods to get rid of the rotten egg smell in order to keep profits up.

The company is putting emissions, like hydrogen sulfide, into an “open-air lagoon” within the company’s fence line. However, the open-air part is, according to the lawsuit, causing the stink. That in addition to a switch from white paper to brown and increased productivity.

”It’s the only way people in the United States can have a voice and take action against a powerful company like New Indy,” said Mauney.

Mauney said he has four plaintiffs and has gotten calls from at least 100 people who want to jump on the suit.

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