Residents File Lawsuit Against Fragrance Company Over ‘Noxious Odors’ In Murray Hill

Jan 11, 2021


A federal judge has thrown out a class action lawsuit filed by residents of Murray Hill against a local chemical company, but he’s giving them until Jan. 22 to fix the issues with the complaint and refile it.

The complaint against International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF) was submitted by Jacksonville attorney Mitchell Stone last week on behalf of three named residents of Murray Hill and others dealing with the chemical odors, often referred to as a “sickly sweet, turpentine smell.”

The suit alleges that IFF’s chemical fragrance and flavor manufacturing plant on Lane Ave. is releasing “unreasonable noxious odors” that are leading to damages — an issue that residents say has persisted for years. In the past, residents have said that the chemical smell sometimes manifests as a visible plume that makes it difficult to breathe and stings the skin.

One of the named plaintiff’s, Jenny Wright, claims that the odors from IFF make it impossible for her and her neighbors to enjoy their yards because the smell gets so strong that it causes physical reactions. Wright claims that the odor sometimes gets into her home, even when all the doors and windows are closed. Many worry that the odor could be hurting home values in the affected areas.

Related: City Investigating Chemical Odor In Murray Hill

Hundreds of complaints have been submitted to Jacksonville’s Environmental Quality Division (EQD). Division Chief Melissa Long told Murray Hill residents in November that the city was investigating the odor and whether IFF was responsible.

According to the suit, EQD staff have since reported detecting the odors and verified that the IFF facility was the source and on Dec. 11, a cease and desist citation was issued.

U.S. District Judge Brian Davis found the complaint impermissible and on Jan. 7 ordered it stricken. However, he gave the plaintiffs until Jan. 22 to file an amended complaint.

IFF did not respond to a request for comment before this story’s deadline.

Brendan Rivers can be reached at brivers@wjct.org, 904-358-6396 or on Twitter at @BrendanRivers.