RiNo odors lawsuit: Judge throws out dog-treat-factory complaint against city, neighbors

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A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the owner of a pet treat factory in the River North neighborhood, who sued the city and three neighbors for conspiring against him. As explained in our cover story, "Raising a Stink," Ray Kasel of Kasel Associates Industries took issue with the fact that his neighbors complained about bad smells coming from his factory -- and he suspects city officials had a hand in his getting slapped with an odor ordinance violation last April.

For years, Kasel's neighbors had been griping about the odor from "the pig ear factory" -- so nicknamed because Kasel makes pig ear dog treats. Their descriptions of the smell were often graphic. "Smells like dead animals," a neighbor once reported. But odor complaints are hard to verify, and none ever resulted in an official violation.

Until last year. On March 19, 2012, the city Department of Environmental Health received five smell complaints about Kasel's factory from different households within a twelve-hour period. A clause in Denver's air-pollution ordinance allows for a citation to be issued when that occurs -- though it hadn't been used before Kasel's case.

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Eric Magnussen
Kasel Associates Industries.
Kasel appealed the citation and lost. But he wasn't about to give up. In September, he sued the city in federal court for conspiring against him, harassing him and violating his constitutional property rights. Also named in the lawsuit were three employees of the Department of Environmental Health, including manager and former city councilman Doug Linkhart; three complaining neighbors, including Sharon Brown; city councilwoman Judy Montero; and Montero's former assistant.

Kasel alleges that the city officials named in the lawsuit helped the neighbors get him in trouble. Their actions, he asserted, "constituted an unlawful conspiracy to defame [his] reputation" and led to "annoyance, inconvenience, stigma...[and] litigation costs."

The city asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that Kasel's constitutional rights were not violated by receiving a single odor violation and a $500 fine. Sharon Brown -- an artist who, along with her husband, was among the first wave of creatives to move into the then-mostly industrial RiNo during the early 1990s -- also hired a lawyer, who maintained that she and the other neighbors were simply following the city odor ordinance.

On Tuesday, the case had its first day in court. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Matsch heard arguments from both sides about whether to dismiss the lawsuit. His most pointed questions were directed at Kasel's lawyer, Phillip Parrott.

"What is the violation of the Constitution?" Matsch asked.

Parrott said the city and neighbors had deprived Kasel of his right to operate his business and "selectively enforced" the city's odor ordinance to punish him. He added that the odor violation was just one method used to antagonize Kasel and that the neighbors had a long history of complaining about the pet treat factory.

"This was one of multiple attacks they were using," Parrott said.

Continue for more about the pig ear factory ruling.


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4 comments
valletwo
valletwo

What makes smells linger? The smell is made of invisible gases that have vaporized from the source. These vaporized odors float in the air attaching to the suspended cation particles which act like a sponge absorbing and carrying the odors and toxins through the air we breathe. Air-ReNu a paint additive, turns any wall, surface, into a permanent air, purification system no electricity or filters required.

GTFO
GTFO

Only an asshole would buy one of these hideous, overpriced lofts to begin with- but to then to have not done any research on the neighborhood they're moving to & complain about companies that have been in the area for decades beforehand is flat out stupid. There is a great solution to this- GTFO.

RiNoRes
RiNoRes

@GTFO You are grossly misinformed.  Silver Square residents bought for cheap years ago and before Kasel Factory was making "dog treats" that have been found to be contaminated with salmonella (google that). They were manufacturing non-odor producing industry when residents moved in then switched manufacturing later on. Doubtful you would enjoy a factory spewing out vile odors of dead animal parts after you had already been living in your residence. 

dumb
dumb

@RiNoRes, @GTFO is right. GTFO.

From the previous article... Note the part where it ways "It was a junkyard when we bought it - literally[...]" 

"Artist studios are allowed in industrial areas, and RiNo boosters say there were several at the time that Kasel Associates moved in. But new residential dwellings are forbidden. In 1985, however, developerJerry Glickand his business partner won a zoning change for a project they dubbed Silver Square, at 33rd and Blake streets, across the street from where Kasel is now located. It involved transforming a brick complex once used to manufacture sugar-refining machinery into lofts where artists could live and work.

"It was a junkyard at the time we bought it — literally a junkyard, with junkyard dogs," Glick says."

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