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Louisville Homeowners File Kentucky Whiskey Fungus Class Action Lawsuit

Louisville, KY: Three Kentucky whiskey makers are facing an environmental class action lawsuit alleging ethanol vapors given off during the aging process are leaving black spots called "whiskey fungus"on nearby cars and homes, and this fungus is allegedly causing permanent property damage.

The class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of homeowners who live near the Louisville manufacturing facilities. They claim a fungus in the vapors is leaving a nonlethal, sooty mold on surfaces near the distilleries. The vapors which occur due to evaporation during the fermentation process are known as "angel's share"--referring to the guardian angels that are thought to watch over the aging process of the whiskey. Plaintiffs say the companies need to do a better job of "managing their emissions."

According to McMurry & Associates, co-counsel for the plaintiffs, Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District has been investigating complaints of black spots on some homes and cars near liquor-making operations and had recently tested spots at the home of the lead Plaintiff, Joseph M. Billy. The testing detected baudoinia compniacensis, which is known commonly as "whiskey fungus."

Because Whiskey fungus can only be removed "with extreme measures,"such as high-pressure washing, Class Members are required to spend an "abnormal amount of time and money cleaning surfaces in and around their property,"the class action lawsuit states.

The defendants in the Kentucky Whiskey fungus class action lawsuit are Diageo Americas Supply Inc. (maker of Crown Royal, Bushmills and Johnnie Walker), Brown-Forman Corp. (maker of Jack Daniels, Canadian Mist and Early Times), and Heaven Hill Distilleries (maker of Evan Williams, Parker' Heritage and Henry McKenna).

The lawsuit is brought on behalf of all persons who own real property in the vicinity of the Defendants' ethanol-emitting operations, as well as all persons who own a motorized vehicle that is regularly parked and/or stored in the vicinity, the exact radius of which will be determined later. The lawsuit is seeking injunctive relief and punitive, compensatory and exemplary damages for negligence and gross negligence, nuisance, trespass and strict liability.

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