On October 8, the City of Ashland presented Stafford Rosenbaum attorneys Ted Waskowski and Richard Yde with a key to the City and a Certificate of Appreciation for Stafford Rosenbaum’s “extraordinary effort representing the best interest of the City of Ashland” defending the City in a federal lawsuit by Northern States Power Company, an Xcel Energy subsidiary. In presenting the key and certificate, Mayor Deb Lewis, a lawyer herself, recognized the “excellence” of the representation provided by Stafford Rosenbaum.

The suit was over who would be required to pay for cleanup of tar wastes from a manufactured gas plant. The plant operated from 1885 to 1947 on a bluff overlooking Lake Superior’s Chequamegon Bay. The tar contaminated the area below the bluff and the sediments in the lake.

On September 11, Judge Barbara Crabb ruled that the City would not have to contribute to the cost of cleaning up the contamination. As a result, NSP has sole responsibility for the ongoing remediation of the contamination. The cost of the remediation may well exceed $100,000,000.

On the day the decision was issued, Mayor Lewis was quoted in the Ashland Daily Press as saying that the issue of who would pay for the contamination cleanup has caused “a lot of fear, a lot of angst” and has even held up economic development in the city. “I get a lot of calls regularly who say to me they really want to move here but I am afraid to do it until I know if the city is going to be bankrupt,” she said. “And quite frankly, if NSP had gotten what they were asking of us, we would have been bankrupt.”

“This is one where the stakes were incredibly high, and we are obviously very happy that it turned out the way it did.”

Ashland Mayor Debra Lewis, City Attorney David Siegler, City Administrator Mary Garness along with members of the City Council presenting Ted Waskowski and Richard Yde with a key to the City.

With offices in Madison and Milwaukee, Stafford Rosenbaum LLP offers a full array of legal services to businesses, governments, and individuals. As we celebrate our 135th anniversary, effective client communication continues to be at the heart of our practice. Find out more at staffordlaw.com and on LinkedIn.

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