Butchertown neighborhood drops 9-year-old lawsuit over Swift pla - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Butchertown neighborhood drops 9-year-old lawsuit over Swift plant truck storage

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JBS Swift plant, 1200 Story Avenue JBS Swift plant, 1200 Story Avenue
Cabel Street lot Cabel Street lot
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Butchertown Neighborhood Association has dropped a nearly nine-year-old lawsuit against the JBS Swift pork plant over the use of a large parking lot off Cabel Street for storing refrigerated semi-trucks filled with meat products.

The suit, first filed in 2006 and then reconstituted in 2013, alleged that the plant's use of the Cabel Street lot was not properly approved and creates nuisances such as “extremely high volumes of harmful diesel emissions (and) spills of animal blood and other animal byproducts,” as well as damage to neighborhood streets, noise, odor and vibrations.

But the neighborhood association agreed to withdraw the lawsuit, according to an order filed Wednesday in Jefferson Circuit Court.

The only condition was that JBS Swift, Metro government and the other parties not seek to get attorney's fees reimbursed or pursue other “sanctions” against each other, according to the order.

Bart Greenwald, a Louisville attorney representing the pork plant, said the withdrawal came shortly after the plant requested to depose neighborhood association Andy Cornelius, a plaintiff in the lawsuit, and submitted written questions to the neighborhood association seeking information backing up the complaint's claims.

“Instead of answering all those questions and sitting for a deposition, they chose to dismiss the case,” Greenwald said.

Jon Solomon, the neighborhood association's attorney, referred questions to Cornelius.

In a written statement, Cornelius said: "It's a good day for the world's largest manufacturer of processed meat, a multibillion dollar company based in Brazil, and other big corporations that can afford expensive out-of-town lawyers to overwhelm the neighbors where they operate.  It should be a disappointing day for Louisville, because at least for now, JBS/Swift will apparently escape any consequences for its “potentially hazardous and nuisance” operations on our neighborhood's Cabel Street lot — without any permit — for nearly a decade.   

Until recently, most of the Cabel Street lot was owned by the Metropolitan Sewer District, but MSD sold it to Swift in December for $790,000. The northern portion of the lot remains in the name of Louisville Gas & Electric Co. and is leased by the pork plant, plant manager John Cliff said.

Cliff said on average, about 80 trucks are stored in the lot, 25 to 30 of which might be loaded with finished meat products. The meat is cooled by diesel-fueled refrigeration units, he said.

The lot is needed because, once the plant loads orders for customers such as Kroger or Costco, it can be hours or days before a driver shows up to get the truck on the road, Cliff said. The plant does not have nearly enough space on its Story Avenue grounds to store trucks, he said.

In the mid-2000s, the Swift plant moved the truck storage to Cabel Street to free up the lot directly across Story Avenue from the plant for employee parking, Cliff said. That was an effort to appease neighbors by getting the refrigerated trucks farther away and ensuring employees were not relying on street parking, Cliff said.

The neighborhood association still has three separate legal actions involving the plant that remain pending in Jefferson Circuit Court and the Kentucky Court of Appeals, according to Greenwald.

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