Appeals Court Upholds Ruling Dismissing Lawsuit Over Dead Cows
January 24, 2018
A woman who says gas emissions from a company’s Livingston County facility killed her cattle had had her appeal denied.
Peggy Zlatkin owned a farm located on Cherry Blossom Road in Milford, where she kept a herd of Hereford cattle. After initially filing a lawsuit in Oakland County Court and then dismissing it, Zlatkin filed her complaint in U.S. District Court alleging that on the evening of November 17th, 2013, the Merit Energy facility on Lone Tree Road in Hartland Township emitted a large quantity of hydrogen sulfide into the air. The lawsuit claimed that the hydrogen sulfide was then transported by natural winds to her farm, killing two cows immediately and forcing her to euthanize three others.
But she later withdraw the case from federal court and filed it in Livingston County Circuit Court, where it was eventually dismissed by Judge Michael Hatty, saying that the decision to voluntarily dismiss the case from both state and federal court rendered the legal arguments moot. Zlatkin appealed that decision to the Michigan Court of Appeals, which released a ruling Tuesday that upheld Judge Hatty’s dismissal.
Zlatkin was seeking damages totaling $197,500 for the death of her five cows, having to move her herd to a farm in Montcalm County and veterinary expenses.
The Merit Energy facility was also at the center of an investigation into potential groundwater pollution. As the plant was being decommissioned in the fall of 2015, it was discovered that the chemical sulfolane was present in nearby soil and groundwater. The company was then required to clean the site up by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality; although the impact to groundwater was localized with no evidence that residential groundwater was impacted. (JK)