Friday meeting to address environmental lawsuit

Commerce – A resolution may already be in the works in a lawsuit filed by the City of Commerce against a New Orleans-based real estate firm, alleged to have illegally dumped and buried asbestos.

The City Council Tuesday appointed Interim City Manager Marc Clayton to attend a settlement conference with Fountainbleu Management Companies' owner, Roland Von Kurnatowski.

The meeting was requested by Fountainbleu. It's an unusual move, according to Daniel Ray, of the law firm of Scott, Money & Ray PPLC, representing the city; considering Fountainbleu still has two weeks to file an answer to the lawsuit, filed on May 5.

It is unclear what will be discussed during the meeting, but it may include a settlement proposal. Fountainbleu requested the meeting in order to "come to a resolution," says Ray.

The owners of the Live Oak Apartments are alleged to have illegally dumped asbestos following an April 2008 fire that destroyed one of their buildings. The suit, which seeks more than $27 million in damages, claims Fountainbleu failed to have a licensed asbestos contractor remove the material from the debris, and instead themselves dumped more than 20 containers of asbestos-contaminated debris in the local landfill, while burying more of the debris on the complex property.

The company obtained several bids for the demolition and removal of the debris, but according to the suit, none of the bids included the proper disposal of the asbestos.