Soil Solutions could be on the hook for VIMs $150,000 fine
Posted: 02/08/2013 at 1:00 pm
By: Tim Vandenack
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A Recycling Works truck drops a load of scrap wood at the old VIM plant 9/24/2010. The scrap will be ground into mulch when the plant resumes operation. ¨ (Truth Photo By J. Tyler Klassen) ¨ ¨ ¨ ¨ ¨
In fact, in the event VIM, now defunct, canít pay, the AGís office is pursuing payment through Soil Solutions, according to recently examined court papers. Soil Solutions bought out VIM in 2011 and now operates the wood recycling operation off Old U.S. 33 west of Elkhart.
The AGís office filed suit against VIM in Elkhart Superior Court 1 in late 2009, saying the firm illegally accepted some 15,000 cubic feet of scrap wood from area manufacturers and improperly piled it on its grounds. The operation grinds scrap wood into mulch and animal bedding and it has long been a source of ire for neighbors who say dust and other emissions are a bother and health threat.
In the Superior Court 1 case, one of several court matters that has involved the operation, VIM and the AGís office had reached an accord calling on VIM to process the disputed wood pile. VIM didnít comply, leading to the $150,000 fine.
News of that fine isnít new, what is new are the efforts to pursue payment through Soil Solutions.
Ken Will, who had operated VIM, had said he lacked funds to pay the fine, and that led the AGís office to pursue payment through Soil Solutions, according to court papers. The matter has yet to be resolved, and it will be the focus of a scheduled April 26 hearing.
A filing last July by the AGís office notes that VIM had reported liabilities at the end of 2011 of $2.8 million. But it also noted the 2011 purchase of VIMís assets by Soil Solutions.
The AGís office believes Soil Solutions ďmay be obligated to make future payments to VIM which might be available to satisfy this courtís judgement,Ē it says in the filing. It goes on to ask that future Soil Solutions payments to VIM be garnished to cover the fine.
Evan Roberts, Superior Court I Judge, has ordered Soil Solutions to respond to queries on any money it may owe VIM, according to court papers. Likewise, VIM has been ordered to answer questions about any assets it may have. To date, the questions remain unanswered, court papers indicate.
Neighbors who say the wood recycling operation is a nuisance and health threat are suing Soil Solutions and VIM in U.S. District Court in South Bend, hoping to shutter the facility. A judge late last month granted a request by the neighbors seeking class-action status in that case, meaning the number of plaintiffs could spike from the original 151 up to more than 1,700.