Last Friday, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection won a lawsuit against the owner of the Saufley Landfill, the Pensacola News Journal reports. Escambia County Circuit Court Judge Terry D. Terrell signed a final judgment order which allows the FDEP to take over the landfill's closing and requires the owner, Louisiana Investment Group, to pay $677,397 in civil penalties.

With the court order now in hand, FDEP and its contractors will be able to spread two feet of soil at the site and plant grass seed. Richard Fancher, the FDEP Northwest Region Director, told PNJ reporter Kris Wernowsky: "We've been determined to see this landfill closed. It needs to be done. This is the next step."

As the PNJ notes, the civil lawsuit filed by almost 200 residents is still pending. The residents claim that hydrogen sulfide gas from the landfill has caused respiratory illnesses and physical discomfort on the part of the residents and loss of use and enjoyment of the residents' property. The plaintiffs in that case are represented by Jacksonville, Fla.-based attorney Van Kirk McCombs of the Law Offices of Van Kirk McCombs II, Todd Hageman of St. Louis-based The Simon Law Firm and Tracy P. Moye of the Tallahassee, Fla.-based Moye Law Firm.