Bill Hopkins, a lawyer in our firm, along with Gary Poliakoff, a South Carolina lawyer, obtained a $2.3 million verdict last month on behalf of Bishopville area residents harmed by a huge landfill in Lee County, S.C. The jury found in favor of the Plaintiffs against Lee County Landfill SC LLC, a division of waste management company Republic Services. The jurors found the company to be responsible for “nuisance landfill odors that affect people’s enjoyment of their property.”
After two weeks of testimony and two days of deliberations, the jury awarded the affected residents $532,500 in actual damages and $1.8 million in punitive damages. The jury’s verdict – which is rare, if not unprecedented in South Carolina – was both historic and courageous. This verdict will help other citizens in South Carolina who suffer damages as a result of landfill companies. In the past, landfill companies have looked at South Carolina as an easy target without tough restrictions on landfills.
Bill and Gary said they were proud to represent these six Lee County residents who took it upon themselves to stand up to this landfill not only to seek justice, but also to improve the quality of life for all those who live in Lee County, S.C. The Lee County landfill takes more out-of-state waste than any other garbage dump in South Carolina, and has drawn fire in the past when residents complained of its overwhelming odor. Even passing motorists have remarked on the stench, according to local news reports.
Republic Services is a Fortune 500 company worth more than $1 billion. Headquartered in Arizona, Republic has about 200 landfills nationally. Lee County Landfill SC LLC, an arm of Republic, has a net worth of $15.78 million. Bill joined our firm in 2010 in the firm’s Consumer Fraud section. He has developed a successful class action practice, being appointed by several different courts as lead counsel or liaison counsel in many different class action cases. In fact, Bill had a long-standing relationship with our firm prior to coming with us, going back to 1995 when we joined forces in a class action suit against Life of Georgia Insurance Company. Bill was named one of America’s “Best Lawyers” by U.S. News & World Report for 2011 and 2012. He and Gary did a very good job for their clients in this case.
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