Industrial Plants Can Face Costly Nuisance Dust Claims


Industries whose production or manufacturing facilities emit particulate are subject to EPA and other regulatory standards. To meet these standards, industry carefully regularly monitors the amount of particulate produced and is concerned with any residue generated by their facilities. A citizens group (plaintiff) filed a lawsuit against an industry defendant claiming that nuisance particulate from the defendant’s industrial facility blackened and stained plaintiffs’ property surfaces causing damages. The plaintiffs contended that these damages were of such significance that they should be compensated. The industry defendant, in turn, filed a third-party claim against a neighboring industrial plant alleging that the neighbor plant (third party) was responsible for generating the nuisance dust.

The third-party defendant’s law firm retained RJ Lee Group to investigate the claims brought by both the plaintiff and the industry defendant. To determine where the nuisance dust was coming from, we investigated the area and collected and analyzed source samples from the plants and outside surfaces in the plants’ vicinity. Distinguishing between particles generated from different sources requires confirmation of particle size, morphology, agglomerate association and elemental composition. Using optical and high-resolution electron microscopy, we were able to characterize the particulate in question and compare the results to the various plant source material. We studied the meteorological data and how it affected particle deposition in the area in question and we evaluated plaintiff experts’ studies as well. Armed with comprehensive data we were able to reach our conclusions with scientific certainty.

RJ Lee Group’s investigative study demonstrated that the preponderance of nuisance dust was not generated by our client’s industrial facility. We issued an expert report, provided supporting data and deposition testimony.