MUSCATINE — A judge will decide Tuesday if the Grain Processing Corp. class action settlement is fair to class members.
A hearing is set for 10 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 5 at Muscatine Community School District Administration Center, 2900 Mulberry Ave. Judge John Telleen will consider final approval of the settlement reached in October between the class and GPC.
In the notice of proposed class action settlement sent to class members Nov. 19, class counsel wrote, “Class counsel have negotiated this settlement at arms-length, and they recommend it whole-heartedly as an excellent result for the class and the community.”
Telleen will consider the motion for final approval filed by class counsel Jan. 17, and one objection to the settlement filed by a resident. Shane Schenkel wrote he has to take medications for allergies he feels were made worse by pollution from the GPC plant. He also wrote the pollution left residue on his home and vehicle, and he should be compensated for costs of cleaning and his medications.
If approved, GPC will be required to pay $45 million into a settlement fund and make around $6.5 million in upgrades at the plant on Oregon Street in the Southend of Muscatine to reduce emissions and odor.
In the years-long lawsuit, attorneys for the class argued residents lost enjoyment of property due to negligent and nuisance emissions and odor from the plant. Telleen dismissed the negligence claim. He decided the company has the right to release emissions that are non-negligent and likely produce odor.
The proposed settlement also read, “In class counsel’s judgment, these benefits, considering the risks, difficulties, delays, and resulting uncertainties attendant on continued litigation and trial, and the desirability, for all class members of GPC’s commitments to undertake the additional pollution control projects this settlement requires, make this settlement a strong, positive outcome for the class, consistent with plaintiff’s original intent when they filed the lawsuit in 2012.”
The class includes about 14,000 residents that lived within the 1.5 mile-radius of the plant since 2007.
If not approved by the court as “fair, adequate and reasonable,” the agreement will be void and the lawsuit will be set for trial.