Deposition of a paper mill manager

Deposition of a paper mill manager

It should be obvious that discovery in any action involving an industrial process should always begin with the deposition of the party most knowledgeable about the industrial process itself and its implementation by the company or companies involved in the litigation. This is particularly true when environmental issues, particularly contamination of air, water, and soil, become issues in the litigation.

The federal government attempted to regulate discharge of toxic effluents into the air and water with the Clean Air Act amendments and Federal Water Pollution Control Act following passage of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and creation of the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) in the early 1970s. But in 1968, Yannacone and the fledgling Environmental Defense Fund were invited to Missoula Montana to bring an action in equity against a kraft paper mill which was contaminating the entire Bitterroot Valley regional airshed with noxious volatile sulfur compounds, particularly hydrogen sulfide, the odor of rotten eggs, and a number of mercaptans, the principal volatile components of skunk musk.

At the time the lawsuit was filed, there was no information about the source of the unremitting stench which permeated the entire Valley and made study at the University of Montana uninviting to many students and created significant difficulties in recruiting faculty as well. It seemed that they source of the volatile sulfur compounds was the craft paper mill in the lawsuit specifically targeted hydrogen sulfide and the mercaptans because there were no other possible sources of these reduced sulfur compounds in the Valley.

The deposition of Roy Countryman, the manager of the mill, furnished the foundation for the EDF case and the survival of the cause of action until the Company was forced to invest $15 million and modernize their plant.

The detailed analysis of that deposition from the galley proofs of unpublished first edition of the treatise Environmental Rights and Remedies follows: