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HFM Wins Nuisance Case for Greenwood, Missouri Residents

A Jackson County jury this week found that a limestone quarry operation near Greenwood, MO is a nuisance for residents who have endured years of heavy truck traffic from the quarry.
The jury’s verdict calls for the quarry’s owner, Martin Marietta Materials, to pay 18 current and former Greenwood, MO residents actual damages totaling $831,000. Martin Marietta Materials, headquartered in Raleigh, N.C., is one the world’s largest suppliers of aggregates and heavy building materials.
The residents, most of whom live_ or used to live _ on the residential route leading to the quarry, were represented by the Independence, MO law firm of Humphrey, Farrington & McClain.
Greenwood is a town of about 4,500 in southeast Jackson County, MO. It straddles the Jackson/Cass county line. The quarry is in Cass County, just south of its border with Greenwood.
Testimony at the three-week trial revealed that as many as 750 trucks a day rumble past their homes, shaking houses, breaking windows, spitting gravel and dust, sometimes exceeding the speed limit and preventing parents from letting their children play outside in their front yards.
Martin Marietta Materials, which bought the quarry in 1991, let this happen after it expanded the quarry a few years later. The company told the public that it would control truck traffic. But by 2005, 1.4 million tons of aggregate shipments were being loaded onto trucks from the quarry. And trucks were constantly traveling the residential streets.
The plaintiffs thought they were moving to a Mayberry type of community, said their lead attorney Kenneth B. McClain. Instead, they were in the middle of an industrial zone.
“We have a basic principle _ a person’s home is their castle,” McClain said. “We’ve got a right to enjoy it and a right to be safe and at ease in our homes. And no one’s financial interest, no matter what their size, no matter what their power, has a right to take that away from us.”
McClain noted that this verdict was the second time that a jury has ruled that Martin Marietta has maintained a nuisance. Nearly a decade ago, a jury ordered Martin Marietta to pay the city of Greenwood more than $11 million in compensatory and punitive damages.
“This fight will continue in the Court of Appeals as we seek to get Martin Marietta to respect our Plaintiffs’ rights,” McClain said. “We will seek punitive damages and we will show evidence that Martin Marietta knew that the dust created by these trucks was a known carcinogen.”
The trial was held in Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri with the Honorable Kenneth R. Garrett presiding.
The Plaintiffs also were represented by Jonathan M. Soper, Colin W. McClain, Timothy J. Kingsbury, Lauren E. McClain, Nichelle L. Oxley and Scott Britton-Mehlisch of Humphrey, Farrington & McClain.

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