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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Supreme Court turns down request from Millview families suing St. Joe Co.



TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Supreme Court has turned down an appeal from 75 mostly poor African-American property owners of polluted land in Port St. Joe whose fight became linked to the "Taj Mahal" building scandal.

In 2003, the landowners in the Millview community sued the St. Joe Co., saying its defunct paper mill had dumped toxic waste on their property, and a year later they got a judge to combine their complaints into a single class-action lawsuit. That made it economically feasible for the plaintiff's lawyers, working on contingency, to pursue the case against the deep pockets of the St. Joe Co.

In 2005, the St. Joe Co. asked the 1st District Court of Appeal to reverse the lower court's ruling on the class action. After St. Joe filed its appeal — but not disclosed at the time — the 1st District Court proposed building a new courthouse in a St. Joe development called Southwood, on land acquired from St. Joe, and appeals court Judge Paul Hawkes purchased a half-million-dollar home in Southwood. (Lucy Morgan's story here)

[Last modified: Saturday, January 29, 2011 1:53pm]


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