Winnebago Landfill odor draws 534 people to take legal action

Neighbors of the Winnebago Landfill say as the number of complaints grow, so does the smell.
Published: Dec. 1, 2022 at 6:19 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - A growing number of people are joining a Chicago attorney to take legal action, over a pungent odor coming from the Winnebago Landfill near New Milford. The issue was brought to light back in October of 2019, and neighbors say it’s affected everything from property values, to overall health.

“A lot of people have complained about sicknesses and throwing up,” said David DeBlauw, a New Milford resident who lives by the landfill. DeBlauw says while living by the landfill makes him no stranger to smelly situations, the dump site’s consistent odor, doesn’t get any better as he gets older. “It’s noxious, like a rotten egg smell.”

DeBlauw is one of more than 534 residents living in or around New Milford, who signed onto a retainer agreement with Chicago Attorney Glen J. Dunn. Dunn says they’ve filed a total of 21 lawsuits against the landfill over claims of it’'s hazardous scent.

The suit alleges the site causes neighbors bodily harm, decreases their property value, and generates toxic and dangerous gases.

“I’m a contingency lawyer, so I don’t charge my clients any money upfront out of their pocket,” said Dunn. “Because, most of these folks are working class folks, who can’t afford to pay a lawyer on an hourly basis.”

Dunn says these residents may finally begin to see some compensation following court appearances in January.

“We will be appearing, and determining on how, if all the cases are likely going to be consolidated under one judge,” said Dunn. “We can begin taking depositions of our clients, and investigating the underlying allegations of the landfill.”

We reached out to Waste Connections, which owns the landfill, but did not receive a response.

It’s not the first time the Winnebago Landfill faced lawsuits over concerns about the smell, and it’s possible impact on residents. DeBlauw is one of the residents who received compensation over a previous lawsuit against it back in 2010.

“You could live right across the road from it and you shouldn’t have to deal with it,” said DeBlauw. “And, the people that do, do.”