Federal Appeals Court Upholds Sentences For Fillers, Mathis In SCT Asbestos Case

Monday, December 23, 2013

The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld sentences against Donald Fillers and James Mathis in the Standard-Coosa-Thatcher plant asbestos case.

Federal Judge Curtis Collier in October 2012 gave Fillers a four-year prison term for his part in what his own attorney described as the "horrible debacle" on Watkins Street in Ridgedale.

Mathis, demolition firm owner, got 18 months in connection with an inadequate abatement of asbestos that resulted in a major governmental cleanup involving the EPA and others in 2005.

Foreman David Wood was given 20 months in prison. 

The judge also handed down fines and restitution in the case. The restitution amount was set at $27,899.10 each, including against the Watkins Street Project LLC. 

Fillers, 64 when he was sentenced, was also assessed fines of $20,000, $2,220 and $2,224. The corporation that he and his late brother, Gary Fillers, set up to buy the old yarn plant, was fined $30,000, $2,220 and $2,224.

Prosecutor Matthew Morrison of Knoxville had asked for "significant periods of incarceration to send out the message that this can't happen. People cannot just put jobs and profits over human health."

He said the deterrent effect of the sentence was important because he said inspectors are only able to go to about 25 percent of the demolition sites where there is asbestos and others "are on the honor system." The SCT site was discovered when inspector John Schultz of the Chattanooga Hamilton County Air Pollution Control Bureau happened by.

Click here to read the opinion.

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