Orlando, Fla. – April 30, 2020 – Thomas A. Cloud, City Attorney for Fort Meade, along with GrayRobinson’s Rachael M. Crews, Kristie Hatcher-Bolin, Monterey Campbell, and Matthew D. Jones, aided the City of Fort Meade in resolving a six-year feud with Biosolids Distribution Services (BDS), a company who operated a processing plant on the city’s north side that converted wastewater sludge into fertilizer and soil additives. The company has paid $300,000 to settle the last in a series of lawsuits with Fort Meade.
After complaints reporting foul odors from Fort Meade residents increased in August 2014, the city notified Biosolids that the company’s expanded operations violate Fort Meade’s land use regulations. A month later, BDS filed federal lawsuit challenging the city’s assertion of land use violations, becoming the first in a series of court challenges in which the city, led by Cloud and the GrayRobinson team, consistently would triumph.
In June 2015, a court settlement mandated BDS shut down its Fort Meade operations by December 2016. But during that period, the city hiked its rates for high-volume industrial wastewater users due to the increase in grit-laden wastewater traced back to BDS, the city’s only customer in that category. BDS launched a legal challenge to the rate surge, but the circuit court in Bartow rejected the company’s argument.
When BDS ceased all operations in Fort Meade in November 2016, the city filed a lawsuit against the company demanding payment of an estimated $268,600 in delinquent utility billing. A circuit court judge ruled in the city’s favor in 2018, awarding the city a $294,657 judgment. In January 2020, the Second District Court of Appeal entered its per curium affirmance of the Final Summary Judgment in favor of the city and entered its order granting the city’s motion to appellate attorney’s fees in the amount determined by the circuit court. The city and BDS reached a $300,000 settlement in April 2020, in which both sides agreed not to pursue further legal action on the matter. View the case’s settlement mutual release here.