The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

March 9, 2014

Settlement expected in raceway lawsuit

By BRAD KELLAR
Herald-Banner Staff

GREENVILLE — A lawsuit filed by Hunt County and State of Texas officials against a Caddo Mills drag strip is expected to be settled in the near future.

The Hunt County Commissioners Court is scheduled Tuesday to consider a settlement of the suit against Redline Raceway.

“I expect within a few weeks we will have a final settlement in place,” said Daniel W. Ray, the county’s civil attorney, adding the issues of contamination and illegal dumping at the site, which were the basis of the lawsuit, have been addressed.

“The owner has completely remediated the property,” Ray said. “Now we are trying to come to an agreement on what the fine is.”

The settlement is included as part of the agenda for Tuesday’s regular session of the Commissioners Court, scheduled for 10 a.m. in the Auxiliary Courtroom, 2700 Johnson Street in Greenville.

The owners and operators of the business had all issued formal denials to allegations of illegal dumping included under the suit, filed in July 2011.

Testimony in the case filed against Redline Raceway had been scheduled to begin June 23 in the 196th District Court, but as of last week the trial had been removed from the court’s docket.

The suit names Harry Hronas, owner of Redline Raceway; Kelly Duncan, the strip’s general manager and Jerry Goss, the race tracks former manager as defendants. Claims against Kelly Duncan were recently dismissed.

The attorneys for Duncan and Goss had each filed formal general denials with the court, while Hronas submitted a handwritten response on his own.

In an interview shortly after the lawsuit was filed, Hronas told the Herald-Banner he believed the suit was part of an effort to shut down the track at the intersection of Interstate 30 and Farm-to-Market Road 1565.

“There’s somebody out there trying to steal the property ... and they don’t have the guts to come up and face me,” Hronas said at the time.

Ray filed the suit on behalf of Hunt County, the State of Texas and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) against Redline Raceway and the owners and managers of the strip.

According to the suit, on or about March 2010, the company dumped hazardous chemicals, gasoline, asphalt, concrete and a refrigeration unit into and adjacent to Brushy Creek. The dumping allegedly included asphalt scraped from the raceway’s one-eighth mile drag strip in March 2011, as well as more than 30 metal 55 gallon drums tabled with “VHT”, a brand of racing fuel.

The suit claimed at least one of the barrels was actively leaking its contents, an assertion which Hronas said was completely false.

Ray said representatives with the Hunt County Homeland Security Office, which also includes the county’s environmental enforcement unit, had conducted repeated tests at the site lately, which revealed the contamination on the property had been eliminated.

“Which is really the main purpose of suits like this,” Ray said.

But even if the commissioners approve the settlement Tuesday, the State of Texas still has to sign off on the agreement.

“The TCEQ is a necessary and indispensable party,” Ray said, adding that the Texas Attorney General also has to agree.

Should the state OK the settlement, it has to be published for 30 days in the “Texas Register” before the agreement can be made final.