Mill Hill residents can renew suit against auto scrap yard, judge rules

February 07, 1996|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

A state appeals court yesterday granted 37 neighbors the right to renew their court battle against an auto scrap yard they say has endangered their Southwest Baltimore community for decades with explosions and flying debris.

The Court of Special Appeals ruled that neighbors in Mill Hill may have their nuisance suit against United Iron and Metal Co. retried.

The ruling reverses a March 1 decision by Baltimore Circuit Judge Hilary D. Caplan that dismissed the $40 million suit.

Clara B. Mullins, a plaintiff who lives about 100 yards from the facility in the 2600 block of Wilkens Ave., said she was "thrilled" with the ruling.

"I think we're going to win this."

Judge Caplan had ruled that residents were too late when they filed suit in 1993 because a shredder, which grinds 100,000 vehicles a year, had operated uninterrupted for 20 years.

But Judge James P. Salmon said United Iron failed to meet the requirements for dismissal.

United began using an "auto shredder" in 1971 that caused at least 250 explosions over the next 22 years, according to Judge Salmon's opinion. The vehicles exploded when put into the shredder without their fuel tanks removed.

Smoke, soot and dust from the plant covered "cars, porches, windows and laundry," Judge Salmon said in the 30-page opinion.

United's owner, David J. Joseph, agreed in 1993 to "dampen" the effects of the explosions and comply with state air pollution laws, according to court papers.

An official referred questions to company lawyer Warren Rich, who was unavailable yesterday.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.