Fluoride Action Network

Arab: Judge Riley denies AWW request to stay his fluoride order

Source: The Arab Tribune | April 1st, 2016 | By Charles Whisenant
Location: United States, Alabama

“Motion to stay filed by Water Works Board of the City of Arab C/O Mr. Ted (Hyatt) is hereby denied.”

With that one-sentence ruling, Marshall County Circuit Judge Tim Riley denied the Arab Water Works’ board of directors’ request to put on hold his order to reintroduce fluoride to the water supply.

Riley previously granted an preliminary injunction to the city of Arab and ordered the water board to immediately begin fluoridating Arab’s water supply pending the outcome of a lawsuit the City of Arab filed against the water board over the removal of fluoride.

The latest order by Riley means his initial order – to reintroduce fluoride – stands and Arab Water Works remains under a court order to immediately put fluoride back in Arab’s water supply.

The water board appealed that decision to the Alabama Supreme Court and asked Riley to put his order on hold pending the outcome of the appeal.

It wasn’t announced by press time but water board attorneys likely will file a motion with the Alabama Supreme Court asking it to reverse Riley’s denial.

The city sued the water works board after the board removed fluoride from the water system last August. The board did so without notifying the city or the public of the move.

Judge Riley said in his initial order that the city council has the authority to order the board to put fluoride back in Arab’s water supply.

A ruling from the Supreme Court could take months, if not longer.

In its request for the stay, attorneys for the water board said it would take considerable money and time to reintroduce fluoride to the water supply. They also said they are “entitled” to a stay.

City attorneys disagreed.

“The court in its discretion may (stay) an injunction” but no one is entitled.

“The (water board) in making its request to stay the injunction, does not present anything new to the court,” the attorneys said in the city’s response. “The (water board) has provided no basis for this court to revisit this issue.”

The board’s attorneys also stated the public interest would be better served with a stay of the order.

The city’s attorneys again disagreed.

“Unquestionably, the public interest will be served in Arab by fluoridating the water in the same manner is has done for 43 years,” the filing said. “The harm to the development of children’s teeth without it presents the very definition of irreparable harm, because, as testified, no amount of fluoride added later can make up the deficit, and lack of fluoride causes damage to existing teeth as soon as fluoride is removed, though the harm will only be manifested later.”

Also in it’s request to grant the stay, the water board suggested that adding fluoride back to the water would require the board to expend a substantial amount of time, effort and money.

“No such evidence was presented to the court,” city attorneys responded. “Secondly, the statement is also undercut by (the board’s attorneys) where counsel indicated to the court that they believed the resolution of the entire case would take only a few months.”

The board’s attorney also suggested that the board would spend between $9,000 and $11,000 to fluoridate the water for one year.

“It would be ridiculous to consider the few thousand dollars the water works would be required to spend to reintroduce fluoride (all of which is already paid for by rate payers) as ‘substantial’ in light of the four to five times that amount they will spend on attorney’s fees for the appeal alone,” city attorneys stated.

The city’s attorneys noted that the Alabama Department of Environmental Management said re-fluoridating the water would be “very simple.”

“In sum,” the city’s attorneys said, “there is nothing new here. There is absolutely no evidence to prompt any reconsideration by this court.

“For 43 years, the Arab Water Works fluoridated Arab’s public water supply pursuant to a 1972 resolution from the city,” they continued. “This is the status quo – not the done-under-the-cover-of-night and without-notice action of the water works (when the fluoride was removed).”