ELKHART — The Indiana Attorney General’s Office hasn’t forgotten about the $150,000 fine VIM Recycling was ordered to pay in connection with the firm’s improper handling of wood waste on its grounds.
In fact, in the event VIM, now defunct, can’t pay, the AG’s 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 AG’s 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 AG’s office had reached an accord calling on VIM to process the disputed wood pile. VIM didn’t comply, leading to the $150,000 fine.
News of that fine isn’t 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 AG’s 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 AG’s office notes that VIM had reported liabilities at the end of 2011 of $2.8 million. But it also noted the 2011 purchase of VIM’s assets by Soil Solutions.
The AG’s office believes Soil Solutions “may be obligated to make future payments to VIM which might be available to satisfy this court’s judgement,” 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.