Couple Press Their Claim in Court
That Quarry Blasts Damaged Home
By Michael Maynard
June 19, 1991
A 200-year-old home in South Wallingford has
cracks in its ceilings and walls and gaps in its slate
Its owners, Phillip and Elma Lidstone, claim that
blasting from a quarry behind their home created the
cracks and, at times, coats their yard with so much
dust that they must go inside and close the windows.
The Lidstones filed a lawsuit in 1987 against
White Pigment Corp., the company that owned the quarry
until 1985, and South Wallingford Limestone, the
quarry's current owners. The trial started Tuesday in
Rutland Superior Court.
Lawyers for the quarry companies contended their
blasting methods have always been safe. They
maintained the home's problems stemmed from its age,
its proximity to Route 7, and the lack of maintenance.
The Lidstones called an expert witness who
examined the home in 1987 and testified the cracks
were a result of shocks from the blasting. "It was
the only possibility I see that could cause this
damage," according to Howard Wagner.
But under cross-examination, Wagner said he did
not notice rotting timbers underneath the hearth of
the first-floor fireplace, timbers that he admitted
probably caused a crack in the wall.
Under questioning from Joseph H. Badgewick, the
attorney for White Pigment Corp., Wagner said he was
not familiar with a 1942 government study listing 40
causes for cracked walls other than vibrations from
Wagner is a former contractor from Burlington who
has over 60 years experience in blasting, though he
testified that he had not done any blasting since the
early 1960s. "I feel my experience is a pretty good
teacher," he said in response to a question from the
Lidstones' attorney, Cortland T. Corsones.
In his opening statement, Corsones said the
ground rumbled and shook during some of the blasting
from the quarry. He said the blasting had created
cracks in the walls, ceilings, chimney and in the
cellar. Wagner testified that the Lidstones had
replaced several ceilings and a chimney in their home.
Corsones said the Lidstones had also lost income
they had gotten from boarding horses and renting an
apartment at their home. The Lidstones, as well as
family members and friends, will testify during the
course of the trial, Corsones said. Jurors also will
visit the Lidstones' home and the quarry during the
S. Stacy Chapman, III, the lawyer for South
Wallingford Limestone, said its expert witness will
testify that the company followed procedures to
minimize any damage to the area. He said the expert
would testify that, "It is virtually impossible for
the damage that these plaintiffs are claiming to be
caused by the blasting."
Chapman said the state conducts two unannounced
inspections per year. And, he said, the workers are
trained in blasting techniques. Chapman said a plan
is worked out before the blasting and its effects are
measured with a seismographic meter.
Two demonstration blasts were performed in April,
although Wagner said they did not affect the home.
But he said the demonstration did not change his
opinion because he did not have specifics about the
amount of explosives used in the blast.