Judge dismisses slaughterhouse lawsuit

Judge dismisses slaughterhouse lawsuit
The live chicken butchery will be located at 3225 Colvin St. The one-story building is 7,250 square feet and is surrounded by a mixture of industrial and commercial uses. (Photo Credit: Cody Mello-Klein)

By Missy Schrott | mschrott@alextimes.com

Alexandria Circuit Court Judge Lisa Kemler ruled on Nov. 27 to dismiss a lawsuit filed against city council’s decision to approve a live poultry butcher shop at 3225 Colvin St.

The hearing was in response to a complaint filed by 10 plaintiffs who own property or operate businesses near the slaughterhouse and the city’s motion to dismiss the complaint based on standing. Kemler ruled to dismiss the case, concluding that the alleged harms were “too speculative,” according to the plaintiffs’ attorney, Elizabeth Seltzer.

“Judge Kemler’s ruling is frustrating to the Plaintiffs,” Seltzer said in an email. “… The end result is that the Slaughterhouse plaintiffs … were denied an opportunity to challenge the City’s hasty approval of the slaughterhouse or the potential harms it presents to them.”

City council approved the special use permit for the controversial butcher shop on March 26.

The halal poultry market and live butcher shop, which is not yet open for business, will be operated by DC Poultry Market, a nationwide halal meat operation also known as Saba Live Poultry. At the shop, customers will choose their chickens from a windowless holding room, then wait on the premises for the chickens to be slaughtered.

The slaughterhouse is in close proximity to several pet businesses and residences. Leading up to council’s SUP approval, several of those residents and business owners expressed concerns about odors, parking, chicken delivery and trash pickup. In their complaint, the 10 plaintiffs addressed several of these concerns.

Kemler first dismissed the case for lack of standing on Sept. 26, but allowed the plaintiffs to amend the complaint to include more particularized harm, according to Seltzer. Plaintiffs filed the second amended complaint on Oct. 16.

In the amended complaint, the plaintiffs assert that “defendants did not impose clear or specific conditions on the Applicant nor require specific equipment to prevent” plaintiffs from hearing slaughter noises, plaintiffs from smelling odors or blood from seeping into the ground, among other specific allegations of harm. Despite the outlined allegations, Kemler dismissed the case again.

“By dismissing the Second Amended Complaint for lack of standing, Judge Kemler denied Plaintiffs any opportunity to examine the City’s failure to properly conduct appropriate review of the slaughterhouse SUP and their failure to impose adequate safeguards and conditions to prevent harms to Plaintiffs’ properties and businesses,” Seltzer said in an email.

Mary Ann Hollis, a plaintiff who lives less than a half mile from 3225 Colvin St., said she was disappointed in the judge’s decision and frustrated with the local government.

“The Mayor and the City Council are showing a pattern of operating foolishly and ignoring common sense local concerns,” Hollis said in an email.

Saba Live Poultry owner Abdul Mused could not be reached for comment. Mused told news sources in October that he plans to open the shop in early January.

Seltzer said the plaintiffs are weighing their options moving forward, one of which is filing an appeal with the Virginia Supreme Court.

(Read more: Lawsuit filed over chicken slaughterhouse)