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Businessman files lawsuit against Lodi, garbage company

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Posted: Thursday, October 31, 2002 10:00 pm

A Lodi mobile home park owner has filed a class action lawsuit against the city of Lodi and Central Valley Waste Services, the garbage company he feels has negligently damaged city streets and failed to upgrade its equipment.

Jim Baum filed the complaint Thursday after lodging several formal and informal complaints with both the city and the garbage company, whose seven-year contract was renewed by the City Council earlier this year.

The Lodi resident, who filed the suit as a representative of all city residents, feels the garbage trucks circulating through his Rivergate neighborhood and the two mobile home parks he owns are leaking grime, hydraulic fluid and oil that ends up in the Mokelumne River and soils the streets taxpayers pay to maintain.

The suit also names Alex Oseguera, Central Valley Waste Services district manager, and division Vice President Nick Skich.

A company representative could not be reached for comment Thursday.

City Attorney Randy Hays declined to comment because he had not seen a copy of the complaint.

For more than 18 months, Baum has written letters to city officials and representatives of the private company.

Baum, who owns Almondwood Mobile Estates and Shady Acres Mobile Home Park, approached the council in June 2001 with a letter detailing his complaints about the vehicles and pictures showing the street soiling.

He also presented council members with a chronological file detailing the problems. Each entry also includes the date, day, truck number and short description.

Although he exchanged communication with the garbage company and some changes were made, Baum was back before the council in October 2001. He again presented pictures documenting more spills.

When Baum again wrote to the city and submitted new photos in June, Public Works Director Richard Prima responded in a letter to Baum and explained that he had personally examined the new equipment at the company's Lodi site. The trucks have since been put into service, Central Valley Waste has said.

In August, Oseguera said the new preventative measures include twice-daily equipment checks and weekly maintenance, if necessary. Drivers were instructed to bring vehicles back to the company's maintenance facility if they notice any problems, he said.

Company officials also said, at that time, they were working to replace vehicles on a regular rotation. At any given time, there are 12 to 15 vehicles servicing Lodi.

But on Oct. 2, Baum hand-delivered to the city another complaint citing oil that had been spread the same day throughout his Almond Drive park.

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