Canestrale operations

Kelly Tunney for the Observer-Reporter

Matt Canestrale Contracting Inc. is named in a lawsuit by residents living near a coal ash dump in La Belle, who allege that poisonous fly ash blew off the uncovered barges and trucks delivering coal byproducts to an ash dump at the top of the hill overlooking their homes.

A federal judge has allowed the defendants in a class-action lawsuit over allegedly bringing in pollutants that caused health problems for some Fayette County residents to charge the plaintiffs legal fees for non-compliance sanctions.

Last week, counsel for defendants Allegheny Energy and West Penn Power requested a total of $1,432 in reimbursements from the plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit that alleged the companies are responsible for polluting an area, making the residents sick.

The suit was filed in April 2017, claiming the health of residents and property value in La Belle have been negatively impacted by pollutants from multiple defendants that have allegedly disposed of coal ash and waste by barges and trucks since 1997, leaving 40 million tons of waste, two slurry ponds and a million cubic yards of coal ash, according to the complaint.

Since 2013, residents have said their neighbors have died of cancer, and those who are still living have discovered they have cancer or have cancerous tumors.

In June, counsel for the defendants filed a motion for sanctions following repeated attempts beginning in July 2018 from the defense requesting signed medical authorizations so the defense could begin obtaining and reviewing medical records of the plaintiffs.

In May, the defendants, including Matt Canestrale Contracting Inc., filed a non-compliance notice of the plaintiffs not providing the requested discovery.

U.S. District Judge Lisa Pupo Lenihan granted in part and denied in part the motion by imposing monetary sanctions for the time spent by defendant counsel in preparing and filing noncompliance motions and notices, but denying the request by the defendants to dismiss the case or to strike the class allegations.

The plaintiffs in the case also have until July 28 to provide individual verifications of discovery responses.

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