Settlement in ASG suit ends long legal tussle
December 7, 2006
Having its special-use permit yanked after an explosion at a chemical manufacturing plant in Dayton has brought that now-defunct company a windfall, and it has brought a six-year legal battle to an end.
Lyon County Commissioners approved a $4.75 million settlement with Advanced Specialty Gases Inc., whose plant producing nitrogen triflouride used in cleaning computer components exploded July 30, 2000.
Commissioners later revoked the company’s special-use permit and the company responded with a $5 million lawsuit against the county and commission Chairman Bob Milz. What followed was years of legal maneuvering, appeals and insurance company disputes.
Milz abstained from the vote Thursday and will have to settle with the company on his own, said Lyon County District Attorney Leon Aberasturi. Vice Chairwoman Phyllis Hunewill will sign the settlement agreement.
The settlement was reached on Nov. 30, with the help of a mediator, Aberasturi said.
“It was settled because you never know what’s going to happen if you go before a jury,” he added.
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The county’s insurance carrier, Nevada Public Insurance Agency Pool and its excess carrier, Royal Insurance, will pay Advanced Specialty Gases Inc. the $4.75 million.
In the settlement, the commissioners and the company agree to a mutual release of all claims.
ASG agrees to surrender and waive all claims to the Lyon County special- use permit for its former plant on Enterprise Way in Dayton.
Aberasturi also discussed the settlement at the Dayton Regional Advisory Council meeting Wednesday, saying no money will come from the taxpayers, at least not yet.
“The insurance company will take a hit, and taxpayers will take a hit later through higher premiums charged to the county,” Aberasturi said.
He said the company’s position was that the county was wrong to revoke the special-use permit, causing ASG to lose profits and then their business. ASG alleged that amounted to the unlawful taking of property, Aberasturi said, adding that the county probably should review its special use permit process.
Commissioner Leroy Goodman expressed relief at the settlement.
“I’m just glad it’s over,” he said.
Advanced Specialty Gases
• Advanced Specialty Gases established in May 199.
• Opened plant on 28 Enterprise Way, Dayton in June 1997.
• Explosion occurred July 30, 2000.
• ASG was fined $45,000 in administrative penalties in May 2001 by Nevada Department of Environmental Protection. The company denied allegations of falsification.
• Lyon County commissioners revoked ASG’s special-use permit on Oct. 24, 2001, after three days of testimony and debate.
• ASG immediately filed a lawsuit against the county, later adding Commissioner Bob Milz.
• Nevada Public Agency Insurance Pool paid $250,000 in costs from the lawsuit, which brought in a third-party insurer, Royal Insurance.
• Judge David A. Huff of the Third Judicial District Court ruled against the county in August 2002.
• Commissioners voted 3-2 to uphold the special-use permit revocation on March 10, 2003.
• Huff overturned the county’s decision in October 2003.
• The Nevada Supreme Court declined to intervene in June 2005.
• Insurance Pool agreed not to seek reimbursement of $250,000 from the county in September, 2005.
• Attorneys for the company and county reached a settlement on Nov. 30, 2006.
• Lyon County commission voted to approve the settlement on Dec. 7, 2006.
• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at firstname.lastname@example.org or 882-2111 ext. 351.