Carson Residents Sue Nearby Warehouse Owner, Business Over Foul Odor

By Micaela Ricaforte
Micaela Ricaforte
Micaela Ricaforte
October 26, 2021 Updated: October 28, 2021

A group of Carson residents sued a warehouse owner and business for allegedly dumping debris from a warehouse fire into the Dominguez Channel, exacerbating a foul odor plaguing residents since early October.

The class-action lawsuit, filed in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, claims that business Art Naturals allegedly “maintained unsafe conditions” and stored flammable ethanol-based sanitizer products at a nearby Prologis Inc. warehouse, causing a fire on Sept. 29.

“The fire and the debris from [the Prologis warehouse] had something to do with the Dominguez Channel and us getting sick,” Ana Meni, plaintiff and Carson resident, told The Epoch Times.

Meni said she and other residents felt they had to seek help from an attorney because they felt they lacked community advocates in their elected leaders.

“We knew that this is something bigger than us, that we needed help,” she said.

Residents say the stench has caused dizziness, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and other symptoms. The city earlier this month declared the smell a “public nuisance,” and on Oct. 25, city officials declared a local state of emergency.

“What’s going on in the city of Carson is a public health disaster,” attorney Carlos Urzua, representing the plaintiffs, told The Epoch Times.

“In talking to many of the individuals, they’re suffering from daily nausea, vomiting, headaches, burning eyes, and respiratory issues, and our lawsuit seeks to get personal injury damages, both past and future.”

Debris from the fire, including the alcohol-based sanitizer, made its way into the city’s storm drains and ended up in the Dominguez Channel, according to the suit.

“The uncombusted alcohols, various other combustion products, and debris entered the Channel as runoff, where it sat in shallow stagnant water, contributing to acute phytotoxicity, which prompted the production of hydrogen sulfide—a highly flammable, toxic, malodorous, and corrosive gas,” the suit states.

The lawsuit seeks compensation for relocation costs, for future medical monitoring, and for loss and benefit of the use of people’s property, as well as lost wages.

The suit was filed by residents Meni, Sarah Jaco, Sharronn Thompson, Dovard Ross, and Monique Alvarez and her three children.

Urzua said the lawsuit is brought against defendants Prologis, Inc., Liberty Property, LLP, and Virgin Scent.

Carson Mayor Lula Davis-Holmes said last week that the smell may have been exacerbated by bacteria feeding on the charred remains of the Prologis fire in the channel.

Davis-Holmes said in an Oct. 25 press conference that the city’s emergency declaration will make it easier to “cut through the red tape” to obtain resources for residents and businesses affected by the odor.

The Carson City Council sent the proclamation to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and Gov. Gavin Newsom, calling on them to declare a state of emergency in Carson and requested a presidential state of disaster.

“There’s a solution that requires a lot of agencies to come on board. I’ve called upon the governor, our state’s elected officials … to proclaim this a resolution so we can get the resources that we need to address this problem,” Davis-Holmes said.

Currently, the county is developing a restoration plan for the waterway; that plan includes a biodegradable neutralizer and increasing hydrogen levels in the channel, according to Mark Pestrella, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works.

A spokesperson for Prologis Inc. didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time.