FAQ: What we know about the fill pile lawsuit
FAIRFIELD — A lawsuit between the town and Julian Enterprises will continue with an arbitration hearing, despite a last-minute effort by the town to restore the case to court.
The lawsuit — which spans back to May 2017 — is centered around a fill pile at Richard White Way, a site that has been reported to contain contaminated materials and is the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation by Fairfield police.
Currently, the parties are in arbitration to resolve the conflict outside of court.
Here’s what we know about some frequently asked questions regarding the fill pile and the ongoing lawsuit.
What is the fill pile?
The fill pile, a site where construction debris and other materials were disposed of, at Richard White Way had been in place for decades. The town hired Julian in 2013 to manage the size of the pile.
In early 2017, a low amount of lead and PCBs were found at the pile, discovered by an environmental professional hired by the town. The site was shut down and a cleanup was completed in February of 2018.
Currently, the fill pile is essentially out of the neighbors’ view after it was covered by a green berm in July of last year.
How did the lawsuit begin?
The town sued Julian for breach of contract and for $3 million back in May 2007. The town claimed that the company had not abided by its contract to reduce the level of the fill pile at Richard White Way.
Julian, days after, filed its own lawsuit against the town for defamation, claiming that town officials had made false comments against the company. The company also alleged that the Department of Public Works had “dumped contaminated products into the landfill.”
What and when is the arbitration hearing?
Arbitration hearings are typically a closed-door affair, according to Town Attorney Stanton Lesser, who said such at a Board of Finance meeting back in January.
The arbitration agreement was originally agreed to by both the town and Julian on Nov. 15. The document states that the arbitrator can issue any award and that the “parties agree that the decision is final and binding and reviewable under only limited circumstances by statute.”
According to Tom Cotter, an attorney representing Julian Enterprises, the new arbitration hearing is scheduled for June 6-7. Judge Elaine Gordon, formerly a Connecticut Superior Court judge from 1988 to 2011, will be the arbitrator.
First Selectman Mike Tetreau, after pushback from town officials and board members, said that they have instructed their attorneys to request the arbitration hearing be made public and hire a court reporter to make a record of the proceedings.
What is the criminal investigation about?
Also in the summer of 2007, Fairfield police received complaints from town residents about the volume of material at the fill pile and the “excessive truck traffic traveling in the beach area” according to Chief of Police Chris Lyddy.
The investigation is active, open and ongoing according to Lyddy. If the investigation merits probable cause, a warrant application will be submitted to the State’s Attorney Office for review.
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Who is covering this story?
Fairfield Citizen reporter Humberto J. Rocha can be reached at 203-842-2584, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @hjrocha94.