A publication of Work On Waste USA, Inc., 82 Judson, Canton, NY 13617 315-379-9200 July 4, 1991
Linda Tanner of Black, Reynolds County, Missouri who lived near the site of an infectious-waste incinerator has won $86.5 million in damages against a Canadian conglomerate that she says libeled and harassed her...A jury in St. Louis Circuit Court issued the verdict Friday [5-10-91] against Decom Medical Waste Systems of Canada and its Missouri-based subsidiary, Bunker Resource Recycling and Reclamation Inc., which operated the incinerator in Bunker for about a month before it was shut down by Missouri officials. Bunker is in Reynolds County about 100 miles southwest of St. Louis. Tanner alleged that the incinerator operators tried to smear her reputation because of her opposition to it and that she lost her job as a technician at Reynolds County Memorial Hospital in Ellington as a result. Decom, which operates medical-waste incinerators in the United States and Canada, is owned by Toronto businessman Raymond Adams, according to Rick Witzel, Tanners attorney....Decom initiated the legal dispute in February 1988 when it filed $1 million libel suits against Tanner and Jacqueline Sommer Alexander, 32, in federal court. The suits cited letters that the women had written to two newspapers criticizing the incinerator. [Tanners letter was never published, see below.] The libel suit so angered members of the Missouri Legislature that it enacted a law that, in effect, prohibited Decom from running the incinerator.[See Waste Not #6.] The Missouri Supreme Court overturned the law, but the incinerator has remained closed since 1987 when the states Department of Natural Resources ordered that it be shut down until engineering adjustments could be made...-St. Louis Post-Dispatch, MO, 5-14-91. ...The saga began in 1987, Tanner said, when her opposition to the Bunker incinerator prompted its operators to try to force her from her job at the Ellington-area hospital. In May of 88, she said, Dan Patterson, vice president of Bunker Resources, accompanied by two of his employees, met with the Hospital Board and told members she was working in the hospital with material that could contain the AIDS virus and other dangerous pathogens. She said court documentation and board minutes proved this. She said incinerator people, on a previous occasion, had inquired at the hospital about her certification and had accused her of stealing telephone time from the hospital...She said Decom officials had written letters to state senators, the governor and the attorney general referring to her (and Alexander) as unbalanced fanatics and implied we were involved in some kind of criminal activity...-Reynolds County Courier, 5-23-91.
DECOMS BUNKER, MISSOURI, INCINERATOR. The incinerator, with no pollution controls, was permitted to burn 13 1/2 tons per day and operated only for one month in July 1987. The incinerator in Bunker is surrounded by the Mark Twain National Forest. The principle industry in the Bunker area is cattle, timber and lead mines. No environmental impact studies or health risk assessment were done for this incinerator. Three additional municipal waste incinerators were planned for the same site which residents believed were to be used for medical waste. Decom shut the plant down on request from the Missouri DNR. It never reopened. Ray Adams wife, Ruby, owns shares in KML Corp., a partner in the Bunker incinerator.
SOME BACKGROUND ON DECOM. CNN-TV produced a powerful two-part series on Decoms medical waste activities which aired in September 1990. Produced by John Camp, of the CNN Special Assignment team, the program At Issue: The World Today investigated Decoms medical waste incinerator operations in Bunker, MO, and Hampton, SC, and a proposed Decom incinerator for Susanville, CA. According to the CNN report, Decom operates medical waste trucking operations in Toronto, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago. It operates Canadas biggest medical waste incinerator in Gatineau, Quebec. Within six years Decom has become the biggest, privately owned medical waste company in the country. According to CNNs report, Decom targets small towns in financial trouble, promises jobs and revenues, tries to buy its way into small towns, and when that fails, the company resorts to intimidation and uses its corporate muscle to silence opponents. For a copy of this program try CNN-TV at 404-827-1500.
THE TRIAL AND DECOMS WITNESSES. The attorney that represented Decom at the trial was Henry Menghini from the St. Louis, MO, law firm of Evans & Dixon. Menghini never cross-examined Linda Tanner, though she was on the witness stand for 3-4 days. The trial lasted a full four weeks. There were five live witnesses for Decom at the trial. They were: Lamar Priester, a toxicologist from South Carolina. Priesters son, Chip, works at Decoms Southland Exchange incinerator in Hampton, SC; Ivan P. Flaschner, an attorney from Canada; John Price, an attorney for Bunker Resources from Springfield, MO; Reed Sugg, an attorney from the Kansas City, MO, area; and Patrick Francoeur, current vice-president of Decom. The following had parts of their depositions read into the trial: Jean Paul Bradshaw, a US federal attorney for the western district of Missouri. Bradshaw did not appear at the trial due to a backache. Treva Hearne, another attorney for Bunker Resources, was unable to attend the trial due to a stomach problem, but had video testimony introduced, and Dan Patterson, who was on Decoms payroll for 2 1/2 years while he was the Mayor of Bunker. Patterson sold Decom his property to build the incinerator; his company built the Decom incinerator in Bunker; he became a vice-president of Bunker Resources and was the operator of the incinerator.
AN EXTRAORDINARY STORY. Decom initiated million dollar libel lawsuits in December 1987 (which they later dropped) against Linda Tanner and Jackie Sommer Alexander. Decom initiated these lawsuits on the basis of letters each of the women had written to different papers. Linda Tanners letter was a personal letter to a former editor, Linda Nixson, of the South Carolina Hampton County Guardian. (Decom operates the 100 tpd Southland Exchange medical waste incinerator in Hampton.) Tanners letter was never meant for publication and in fact was never published. Tanners letter was a one-page letter of inquiry to Nixson about the operations of Decoms Southland Exchange in Hampton.. The letter was opened by the current editor, Laura McKenzie. In her deposition, McKenzie testified that she couldnt recall if she made copies of the letter, but stated she had shown the letter to Hampton, SC, attorney Lee Bowers, in the privacy of his office. No one knows how Ray Adams, owner of Decom, got a copy of that letter that initiated his million dollar lawsuit against Tanner. McKenzie, interviewed in the Sept. 1990 CNN-TV report, stated that Decom had offered her a part-time P.R. job. When McKenzie asked how much she would be paid she was asked to name her price.
THE $86.5 MILLION AWARD. Decom has made an application for a new trial. On May 23, 1991, the SC Hampton County Guardian, in a front page article that continued to page 2 reported: ...During discussions concerning that case, Adams attorney repeatedly conveyed statements...that, if settlement offered by [sic]Tanner was not accepted..., all assets of Adams, etc., would be liquidized, concealed, hidden and dissipated so that Tanner will never recover any portion of her judgement...
SOME BACKGROUND ON RAY ADAMS, THE OWNER OF DECOM.
Ray Adams original name was Raymond Lawrence Adolf Borg. He changed names in Canada. Raymond Borg was involved in the largest bankruptcy in Australian history.
According to the Toronto Globe & Mail of March 18, 1977, front and 2nd page: After a 12-month investigation, The Globe and Mail has learned that Ray Adams is really Raymond Lawrence Adolf Borg and that he was born in Cairo on Oct. 14, 1930. He went to Australia at 19 and became a naturalized citizen. In 1965 he was sent to prison for nine years after an investigation into the largest bankruptcy in Australian history. A jury in Melbourne found him guilty of four counts of misapplying cheques and one of forging a sales note. [Ray Adams served five out of the nine years in hard labor- Ed.] He was admitted to Canada as a landed immigrant in 1973 after failing to reveal his (real identity on a form) that read: Do you admit to doing or committing a crime?...The criminal charges that got Raymond Borg a nine-year prison sentence in Australia in 1965 followed an investigation into the largest bankruptcy in Australian history. The company was the Reid Murray Group, one of the largest 10 companies in Australia, which collapsed in 1964 with debts of $25,800,000. Mr. Borg was a director of Reid Murray...