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Lawsuit against health district settled

A two-year legal battle between the county health district and an Indiana-based company that hauls salt was dismissed after the parties reached a settlement agreement.

Details of the settlement haven’t been made public, but Convey It Inc. was ordered to pay court costs and both sides were ordered to pay any fees they incurred, according to court records.

Convey It Inc. sued the Clark County Combined Health District in December 2008, months after health officials asked the company to move its salt pile, formerly located at 348 Tremont Road, and declared it a public health nuisance out of concern that it would contaminate the local water supply.

The company, which later moved its Springfield operation to Warren County, claimed in the lawsuit that the health board, Environmental Health Director Daniel Chatfield and Health Commissioner Charles Patterson interfered with Convey It’s ability to operate and damaged the company financially.

Convey It pushed for damages in excess of $500,000 from the health district, according to court documents, because having to relocate was damaging to the company, Kevin Braig, the company’s attorney told the Springfield News-Sun in May 2012.

When contacted by then News-Sun on Wednesday Braig said “the case has been settled by mutual agreement,” but declined to comment further.

Kevin Lantz, an attorney for the health district, also declined to comment.

Before the case was settled, a trial in a federal district court was scheduled for spring 2013.

Convey It argued in court records that the health district didn’t have the legal authority to declare the salt pile a public nuisance and cited the Ohio Revised Code to support its claims.

However, a U.S. District Court judge ruled months before the settlement that the health district’s resolution to declare the salt pile a public nuisance was not legislative in nature, didn’t create a change in state law and applied only to the Springfield salt pile.

Braig said in 2010 there was no evidence of contamination to Springfield’s drinking water.

But the board of health and others stood by claims that the salt pile was a threat to the local water supply.

“The run off from moisture water and rain hitting the salt pile was infiltrating the ground,” Andrew Pickering, attorney for the board of health, told the News-Sun in 2010. “There’s concern that given enough time it will migrate to (Springfield’s water source). What effect that will have we don’t know.”

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency scientists have said previously the salt contaminated groundwater, but Convey It had said the water supply was never threatened because an impenetrable clay layer separates contamination from the city’s wells.

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