Cargill and Central Salt Remove Case Alleging Village Water Salt Contamination to District Court

Cargill, Incorporated removed a case alleging that it and other companies involved with a salt storage site are responsible for a village’s wells being contaminated to the Southern District of Ohio on Wednesday.

They argued in the notice of removal that there is a diversity of citizenship and the amount in controversy is significant enough for the issue to be handled in the federal court system. They claimed the plaintiffs tried to “thwart the removal” in an attempt to “destroy diversity” by dismissing the action and filing a new almost identical complaint, with an alteration in defendant names, after receiving notice of the defendant’s attempt to move the case.

The complaint was filed on June 3 in the Court of Common Pleas for Preble County, Ohio by the village Camden, Ohio, represented by Frost Brown Todd LLC. Camden has a population of about 2,000; the village claimed the defendants contaminated its wellfield and public water system causing them to incur over $3.6 million in debt to acquire a new wellfield and water treatment system and pay more than double the operating costs each year.

The defendants include companies who own road salt in Ohio or who are associated with the salt storage site. Cargill, Incorporated is represented by Van Kley & Walker, while Good Enterprises, LLC, and Good Rail & Truck Transfer are represented by Cohen Todd Kite & Stanford. Central Salt is represented by Ulmer & Berne and R. Good Rentals, LLC is represented by Katz, Teller, Brant & Hild.

The contamination in the water was discovered near the end of 2010. Salt owned by Central Salt and Cargill allegedly migrated from the pile and into the groundwater and Camden’s wells. They claimed the defendants knew or should have known that the salt pile was directly above an aquifer and upgradient from Camden’s production wells.

“Despite Central Salt’s and Cargill’s vast knowledge and experience with salt storage, they consciously provided no guidance to Rodney Good or the Good Defendants on the proper outdoor storage of salt, and they intentionally entered into contracts that sought to hold Rodney Good and the Good Defendants solely responsible for any environmental contamination occurring during the operation of outdoor salt piles,” the complaint stated.

The village said the defendants “knowingly and deliberately” did not remove the contamination from the groundwater and are interfering with the village’s access to drinking water. It asked in the petition for an injunction ordering the defendants to remediate the contaminated ground so the village can return to using its production wells, as well as injunctive relief.