- A group of Kansas residents filed a lawsuit against Deffenbaugh Industries Inc. in the U.S. District Court over odor issues and potential air pollution from the company's Johnson County Landfill in the city of Shawnee, as reported by the Kansas City Business Journal.
- The suit accuses Waste Management subsidiary Deffenbaugh of "intentionally, recklessly, willfully, wantonly, maliciously, grossly and negligently" failing to maintain the landfill properly. Plaintiffs are seeking class action status along with compensatory, special and punitive damages, and attorneys' fees.
- Deffenbaugh has not issued a legal response to the lawsuit yet, but says it has already been working with local officials on odor mitigation by expanding the gas collection system and making other upgrades. The company also says it plans to install portable odor neutralizers and participate in Shawnee's third-party odor study.
As reported by the Kansas City Star, Deffenbaugh recently received a one-year permit extension from the city despite a recent spike in odor complaints. Heavy rainfall is seen as a potential cause, as well as two nearby wastewater treatment plants. While the company has been sued for similar reasons in the past this could be the first one to achieve class action status.
Lawsuits over landfill odors are a frequent occurrence and can end up costing companies or local governments millions of dollars. Decisions or settlements from these suits often lead to the installation of new gas collection equipment, changes in daily cover procedures and other upgrades but don't always satisfy local residents. Especially when yard waste or other organics are being handled in large quantities, odor mitigation can be a challenge even under the best conditions.
Over the summer, Deffenbaugh was also affected by the national driver shortage which led to multiple missed collections in the Johnson County area. After adjusting pay structure and expanding hiring efforts, the company says it has since returned staffing to normal levels.