Can an Environmental Expert Testify on TCLP in a Sewage Discharge Case?

A property owner appealed the district court’s summary judgments in favor of defendants dismissing its claims that arose from an alleged discharge of sewage contamination.

A pond on Plaintiff’s property received runoff from a drainage ditch located on Defendants’ adjacent apartments in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Plaintiff saw that the pond was bright green and cloudy, smelled foul, and “appeared dead.” Testing of the pond showed that it contained fecal coliform, bacteria found in sewage, at a level of more than five times the state standard for swimming. Plaintiff contacted Defendants about the sewage problem but said that Defendants did nothing in response.

At the same time, Plaintiff was in negotiations to develop its property into a residential and commercial community. Those talks subsequently terminated, and the proposed development never came to fruition.

Plaintiff sued the owners and manager of the apartment and the operator of Defendants’ wastewater treatment system (Operator). Plaintiff alleged that their negligence resulted in the discharge of harmful or hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants, including raw sewage, onto Plaintiff’s property. Plaintiff further alleged that the resulting contamination of its waterways, groundwater, and soil required remediation and caused the property to be unsuitable for use, development, or sale. Plaintiff sought damages for remediation and repair of its property, diminution in property value, loss of use and enjoyment of its property, and loss of a business opportunity and profits from the proposed development deal.

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