A number of developments have taken place in the high-profile Ohio CRT case over the past month. | mojo cp/Shutterstock

An Iowa solid waste commission agreed to pay nearly $240,000 to help fund removal of CRT materials abandoned in Ohio, and two e-scrap operators agreed to pay lower amounts. Meanwhile, settlement negotiations continue with one of the largest suppliers.

In recent weeks, a number of events have occurred in the federal lawsuit, which pits owners of Columbus, Ohio warehouses against dozens of companies that shipped CRT materials to the sites when they were run by failed CRT outlet Closed Loop Refining and Recovery. 

The landlords, Garrison Southfield Park and Olymbec USA, first sued over 40 suppliers in March 2019, claiming the companies are responsible to help pay for cleanup at the sites. An estimated 159 million pounds are in storage in the Columbus facilities. The case is in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.

The following is an update of significant changes in the case over the past month: 

Settlement agreements reached

Garrison Southfield Park disclosed to the court it reached settlement agreements with three additional defendants. A total of 22 defendants have reached settlements with landlords, though not all agreements have been approved by the court yet. 

Waste Commission of Scott County, Iowa: On Dec. 20, Garrison Southfield Park filed a motion asking the judge to approve a settlement with the public entity, which serves Davenport, Iowa and surrounding communities. The commission, which shipped 1.7 million pounds between September 2014 and February 2016, agreed to pay $238,000. The commission is the last government agency to agree to settle, after Federal Prison Industries (doing business as UNICOR) agreed to settle in December. Waste Commission of Scott County’s settlement is the second largest in the case, behind UNICOR’s $647,000 agreement.

Comprenew: On Dec. 23, Garrison Southfield Park asked the judge to approve a settlement with this nonprofit e-scrap recycling and reuse organization. The Grand Rapids, Mich. operation shipped about 400,000 pounds between July 2015 and February 2016. Unlike other settling parties, which have paid 14 cents a pound for materials they shipped, Comprenew negotiated a much lower rate: $10,000, or about 2.5 cents per pound. Landlords agreed to let the group pay the money in monthly $500 installments over 20 months. 

In a statement to the court, Karl Heisler, attorney for Garrison Southfield Park, said Comprenew provided the plaintiffs with five years of financial statements and tax returns to prove it couldn’t afford to pay 14 cents per pound, which would come out to nearly $56,000. 

In a statement to E-Scrap News, Comprenew President Scott VanderKooy wrote that “Comprenew is strong and growing but we are a non-profit that provides training, employment, and costly support services to people with barriers. In our case, the cost of these integrated programs is not covered by ITAD service revenue. We are grateful we were able to reach an agreement regarding Closed Loop which reduces that extraordinary expense.”

Computer Recycling of Virginia: On Jan. 7, landlords asked the court to approve a settlement with Computer Recycling of Virginia, which shipped 153,000 pounds from July 2015 to February 2016. The company agreed to pay $21,400. 

Settlements, defaults, dropped defendants

Settlement negotiations continuing: In a Dec. 12 status update filed in court, Garrison Southfield Park disclosed that it is continuing to negotiate a potential settlement with E-World Recyclers and its former CEO, Robert A. Erie, as well as a separate defendant, CompuPoint USA.

The March 2019 complaint alleges Erie/E-World Recyclers of Vista, Calif. shipped nearly 11.6 million pounds between July 2012 and November 2014, making it one of the largest suppliers to Closed Loop’s Ohio facilities. The complaint alleges CompuPoint USA of Norcross, Ga. shipped 2.9 million pounds between August 2012 and January 2016. 

E-World Recyclers is closed, and Erie served a sentence in federal prison for conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods. He was released from custody in March 2019. 

E-World Recycler, Erie and ComputPoint USA have not filed any paperwork in the case, but Garrison Southfield Park’s attorneys asked the court for more time to negotiate with them. “These negotiations are meaningful and may advance Garrison’s cost recovery efforts, while reducing the liability of the other Defendants,” according to the status update.”Garrison respectfully requests the opportunity to continue these negotiations instead of filing for default at the present time.”

Defaults approved: Three other defendants never responded to the lawsuit, as required by law, so the court on Jan. 9 held them in default. Those are AIM Ecycling of Toledo, Ohio (114,000 pounds shipped), Strickland Electronic Recycling of North, S.C. (231,000 pounds), and TK6 of Tampa, Fla. (384,000 pounds). 

Defendants to be dropped (and maybe one added): Garrison Southfield Park’s attorneys said they plan to file an amended complaint dropping some defendants because the companies are defunct. Those are We Electronics of Bellaire, Ohio (126,000 pounds), Siam Reclaim Technologies of Columbus (86,000 pounds) and eWaste Recycling Solutions of Lewiston, Maine (1.7 million pounds), which closed in 2019 and filed for bankruptcy. The status update document said the landlords “will likely add at least one additional Defendant.”

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