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Supreme Court orders Pratt dismissed from landfill lawsuit

By Staff reports

The state Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the town of Pratt dismissed from a lawsuit over work at a town landfill that allegedly caused damage to a couple's property.

Justices overturned an April ruling from Kanawha Circuit Judge James C. Stucky. In a decision released Wednesday, they said Stucky committed "clear error" in denying the town's motion to dismiss, which Pratt attorneys had filed last December.

Justices ordered Stucky to grant Pratt's motion to dismiss the town as a defendant.

Roger and Roxanna Crist filed their lawsuit in July 2011, arguing that property located adjacent to their own had undergone modifications since about 2003 because of work on a landfill.    

The Crists named as defendants the town of Pratt, John Billo's estate and William and Rosella Perry -- who purchased Billo's property and allegedly continued the landfill work, according to the order.

The Crists argued that the Perrys began raising the landfill when they purchased it from Billo's estate. Raising the elevation caused standing water and a mosquito breeding ground to form on the Crists' property. The flooding has made the Crists' land uninhabitable except for a small area immediately around their home, according to the order.

The Crists said they complained to town officials, who allegedly refused to take action despite knowing the landfill was destroying their property.

The town could only provide copies of a landfill permit issued to William Perry in 2007, according to the order.

But Supreme Court justices wrote in the order that "multiple statutory immunities" relieve Pratt from responsibility in the case. The immunities discussed in the order have to do with towns that issue or revoke permits and inspect properties.    

The Crists had argued that they had a "special relationship" with Pratt that would override any immunity because town officials had been aware of problems with the neighboring property since 2003 and had made promises and were taking steps to have the situation resolved.

But the town officials, and later the justices, disagreed.


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