Prairie Farms seeks $1.4 million over botched mercury clean-up and inflated invoice

Kelly Holleran Aug. 28, 2012, 9:16am


A dairy business claims it had to pay a clean-up company more than six times its estimated costs in cleaning its facility after a sanitary company dropped mercury on the floor.

Prairie Farms Dairy filed a lawsuit Aug. 20 in Madison County Circuit Court against Sanitary Stainless Services and SET Environmental.

In its complaint, Prairie alleges it decided to rehabilitate and renovate its Granite city facility. It hired Sanitary Stainless to deconstruct certain pipes and dairy tanks at its facility, according to the complaint.

The dairy tanks contained manometers, which are similar to thermometers and contain mercury, the suit states. However, manometers differ from thermometers in that they are open-ended and measure the pressure of fluid in the tanks, the complaint says.

When Sanitary Stainless employees were transporting the manometer, they laid one on its side, causing mercury to fall on the facility's floor, Prairie Farms claims. Because of the dangers of mercury, Prairie Farms hired SET to clean the spill, according to the complaint.

SET provided Prairie with an estimate of $100,000 to perform the clean-up work, the suit states. However, it ended up billing Prairie $629,000 for its work, the complaint says.

"In fact, SET's billing practice was so inflated that upon the mere first review of the bill, Prairie Farms objected and SET cut its bill by over $100,000," the suit states. "Nevertheless, even the second issued bill, which is in the approximate amount of $523,000, still contains unreasonable charges."

Prairie Farms alleges breach of contract and negligence against Sanitary Stainless, saying it mishandled the manometer, causing Prairie to incur damages of more than $700,000.

It also alleges negligent misrepresentation against SET, saying it breached its duty by misrepresenting the cost of the clean-up.

In its two-count complaint, Prairie Farms seeks a judgment of more than $1.4 million, plus costs, interest and other relief the court deems just. It also seeks a declaration that its contract with SET is void and that SET is in breach of contract for its unreasonable billing.

Christopher W. Byron and Christopher J. Petri of Byron, Carlson, Petri and Kalb in Edwardsville will be representing it.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 12-L-1323.

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