Asphalt Contractors, Inc. v. Alabama Dept. of Transportation

The Alabama Department of Transportation ("ALDOT") and its director, John Cooper, petitioned for a writ of mandamus to direct the Circuit Court to vacate its order denying their motion to dismiss all claims filed against them by Asphalt Contractors, Inc. ("ACI"). Trichloroethylene ('TCE') and other chemicals were used by ALDOT since the early 1970s. TCE was used extensively by ALDOT as a degreaser and/or cleaning agent and/or as a solvent. TCE is now contained in shallow groundwater in North Montgomery. Since at least April 2009, ALDOT has pumped groundwater into a Dewatering Pond and from there onto a Transfer Pond and then to the South Pond. A portion of the South Pond and wetland area used in ALDOT's remedial efforts is being discharged onto ACI's property. In 2010, ACI demanded that ALDOT immediately cease all dumping of contaminated water on ACI's property. However, the dumping of TCE-laden water onto ACI's property continued to the date of ACI filing its lawsuit. The complaint asserted trespass to realty and inverse condemnation and made claims for injunctive relief. ACI requested damages for the full fair-market value of its property, consequential and incidental damages, compensatory damages, punitive and exemplary damages, expenses, costs, interest, and attorney fees. ALDOT and Cooper filed a motion to dismiss the complaint arguing qualified immunity. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that the trial court erred in denying the motion to dismiss ALDOT as a party to this action. Conversely, the trial court did not err in denying the motion to dismiss as to ACI's inverse-condemnation claim against Cooper in his official capacity. Further, the trial court properly refused to dismiss ACI's claim for injunctive relief against Cooper. Accordingly, the Court granted the petition for a writ of mandamus in part and denied it in part. View "Asphalt Contractors, Inc. v. Alabama Dept. of Transportation " on Justia Law