An animal rendering facility has filed a lawsuit against the South Coast Air Quality Management District, alleging they were not given a fair hearing before the air regular ordered the company to stop operations in Vernon over violations of air quality rules and permit conditions.
Baker Commodities Inc. filed the $200 million lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court Wednesday. The lawsuit accuses SCAQMD and four members of the district hearing board of “shameful and shocking conduct” during an allegedly biased hearing on the district’s bid for an abatement order to shut down the facility, which employs about 200 people. Baker Commodities alleges its due process rights were violated, that they were not allowed to put on a viable defense, and the hearing board procedure was “orchestrated to ensure that Baker would be closed down.”
The lawsuit is seeking $200 million in damages and an injunction directing SCAQMD to vacate its order.
SCAQMD had, including receiving and processing raw material and removing all wastewater from the open-air pit by today. The company was also required to wash all exposed surfaces of animal matter at least once a day and provide a timeline on how it would address and fix all ongoing violations – which included a permanent total enclosure or closed system of its equipment – before the business could reopen and resume operations.
SCAQMD had previously said the decision to order Baker Commodities to close was based on multiple ongoing violations of the agency’s rule to reduce orders.
The facility on Bandini Boulevard converts animal material collected from meat processing plants, supermarkets, and butcher shops into animal feed or other products.