A federal jury in Pennsylvania has reportedly awarded MFS, Inc. of Bethlehem, a now-defunct manufacturer of industrial insulation and ceiling tiles, $6.5 million after finding that four Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) employees retaliated against the company in a series of enforcement actions. The company charged that the employees took the enforcement actions after the company complained to state lawmakers about alleged unfair treatment. The employees, who were sued as individuals, included the director of DEP’s northeast regional office, a former air-quality program manager, the current air-quality program manager, and an agency lawyer.
According to court documents, the dispute started in 2001, when DEP issued a violation notice to MFS for odors allegedly emitted from its plant. A year later, the agency issued a field-enforcement order on a Friday, requiring a response by the following Monday. MFS responded by complaining to state lawmakers, at least one of whom wrote to DEP expressing concern. Shortly thereafter, DEP issued 13 citations to MFS over a two-week period. The company alleged that continued DEP harassment forced the company to shut down in 2008. See The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 11, 2010.