Court date looms for NAF trial

By Thomas Wilson


   Clerks at Charlotte McKeehan's office produced three thick folders of documents.
   Complaints, depositions, motions, and rulings filled with dozens of pages lays out the two-year saga of the City of Elizabethton's lawsuit that names Charles K. Green -- and a plethora of corporations -- as defendants regarding a city sewer line.
   Chancellor Richard Johnson is scheduled to hear a second motion for summary judgment filed by the defendants attorney in Carter County Chancery Court on Tuesday. If the summary judgment motion is not granted on Tuesday, the case is scheduled to be heard before Johnson in Johnson City on Dec. 16.
   The city filed the lawsuit against Green, individually, and several companies, in August 2000, alleging that an NAF landfill was sitting on top of one of the city's main sewer lines. The city asked that NAF remove material and grant access to the sewer line so that city workers could inspect and maintain it.
   Attorney Charlton DeVault representing the city said Wednesday that the city's summary judgment response will include a portion of the as-built plans which will show how the sewer line was laid.
   The city's attorneys have filed two requests for production of documents, the most recent filing in October 2002.
   The city filing reads that the city sought to produce corporate minutes, financial statements, loan documents, etc., which allege Green was the alter ego of wholly-owned NAC, and that both NAC and NAF have for a number of years been "completely controlled instrumentalities".
   According to the original suit, the city says it paid $10,000 for a sewer easement in 1957, then built the 24-inch West End interceptor which served approximately 40 percent of the population at the time the suit was filed.
   The city has laid a support sewer line that connects the interceptor to the city's newly renovated waste water treatment plant across the Watauga River, according to court documents. The support line was installed in consideration of the pendency of the lawsuit, according to court documents.
   The lawsuit asks that NAF reimburse the city for the costs and damages related to the company's infringement on the city's sewer easement.
   City officials say the landfill has blocked the city's access to the main sewer interceptor.
   Previous motions made by attorneys for the defendant(s) to dismiss the lawsuit and an earlier motion for summary judgment were dismissed.
   Telephone calls from the Star to Green and Knoxville-based attorney Stephen Anderson listed as representing the defendants were not immediately returned.
   In the motion for a change of venue, NAF said the city had been allowed to change its original complaint to include recovery of expenses from the new sewer line the city built to bypass the old one.
   Attorneys for the city of Elizabethton responded to the request by saying that, according to Tennessee Code, such a request applied only to cases where a jury is necessary to decide the factual issues of a Circuit or Chancery Court case.
   However, the city said it spent $1,102,745 for the new bypass and that additional interest and debt from the new line is expected to cost $328,841.24 over a 20-year period at the current interest rate of 2.8 percent.