Several Louisville, Kentucky, residents and a business owner have filed a putative class action against Diageo Americas Supply, Inc., alleging that one of its distilling operations has caused an accumulation of “the fungus Baudoinia compniacensis, colloquially referred to as ‘whiskey fungus,’” on their real and personal property. Merrick v. Diageo Americas Supply, Inc., No. 12-cv-00334 (U.S. Dist. Ct., W.D. Ky., Louisville Div., filed Jun 15, 2012).
They allege that the ethanol emissions which occur during the “aging/ warehousing stage of alcoholic beverage production” catalyze and promote the growth of whiskey fungus, a black, sooty substance that purportedly accumulates on metal, vinyl, concrete, and wood and requires “extreme cleaning measures such as a high-pressure washing or the application of caustic chemicals such as chlorine bleach.” These measures allegedly “cause early weathering of surfaces affected by the fungus,” such as gutters, siding, roofing, fencing, and vehicles.
Seeking to certify a class of all persons and entities owning or renting real property or owning motorized vehicles in the vicinity of Diageo’s alcoholic beverage production facility, the plaintiffs allege negligence and gross negligence, temporary and permanent nuisance, trespass, and a right to injunctive relief. They request that the defendant be required to correct or abate the conduct, i.e., “excessive ethanol emissions,” and an order for compensatory and punitive damages, costs, attorney’s fees, and interest.