Court Backs Gateway Estates in Blasting Damag - South Dade News Leader: Community News | South Dade News Leader | Miami Dade County

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Court Backs Gateway Estates in Blasting Damag

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Posted: Friday, June 29, 2018 10:38 am

An appeals court has upheld a ruling that a mining company should pay for damage that blasting caused to a lake at a mobile-home community in Homestead, Miami-Dade County.

A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal sided with the Gateway Estates Park Condominium Association, 35250 SW 177th Ct, which argued that blasting by SDI Quarry caused damage to the bank of a lake at the Gateway Estates mobile-home community.

Judge John Van Laningham ruled in favor of Gateway Estates and awarded $840,000 in damages. SDI Quarry, also is known as Atlantic Civil Inc., challenged Van Laningham’s ruling, arguing in part that it was not proven that blasting caused the damage. But the appeals court rejected the arguments.

“We conclude that competent substantial evidence supports the administrative law judge’s finding that appellant’s blasting activities were a contributing cause of the damage to appellee’s lake,” said the 13-page main opinion, written by Judge Harvey Jay and joined by judges T. Kent Wetherell and Scott Makar.

“The administrative law judge correctly concluded that this was sufficient to subject appellant to strict liability because blasting is an ultra-hazardous activity.” Makar, however, wrote a concurring opinion that said he “reluctantly” agreed. Makar pointed, in part, to a lack of scientific standards for determining if the blasts caused damage to the lake. “Some will decry reliance on testimony by property owners that blasting was coincident with their damages, citing self-interest and bad science; others will applaud that such

testimony and the administrative law judge’s reliance on ‘common knowledge and ordinary experience’ provide a necessary dose of reality to counter lifeless scientific data that lacks context,” Makar wrote. “A skeptical few might go so far as to say that a Magic-8 Ball would be just as accurate in deciding causation, perhaps justifying greater scientific standards or a court appointed expert to assist the judges. 

Such is the current state of debate about causation and seismological liability science, which hasn’t changed much in 50 years.”

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