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.