Benjamin Eaton - Black Belt Citizens Fighting for Health and Justice
In 2009, Arrowhead Landfill in Uniontown, Alabama began accepting coal ash after a dam broke at the Tennessee Kingston Fossil Plant, unleashing millions of gallons of coal ash slurry. After members of Black Belt Citizens Fighting for Health and Justice (BBCFHJ), a community organization working to stop racial and environmental injustice, began voicing health and environmental concerns about the landfill on Facebook, the owner of the landfill, Green Group Holdings LLC sued the officers of BBCFHJ, Esther Calhoun, Ben Eaton, Ellis Long and Mary Schaeffer for libel and slander. They asked for $30 million in damages. The magistrate judge recommended that the court grant the defendants' motion to dismiss but allow Green Group Holdings to file an amended complaint. In February 2017, Green Group Holdings LLC released a joint statement with the four defendants announcing that they had engaged in discussions which had led to the “voluntary and permanent dismissal of the litigation” and that they were “hopeful that, in the future, matters of concern to the community can be resolved through dialogue rather than lawsuits." We invited the company to respond; it did. A rejoinder from the defender is available here.