Uniontown, Alabama is one of the poorest communities in the United States. Its population is 91% African American, and half of its residents live below the poverty line. Georgia-based Green Group Holdings operates a landfill in the town. When the company dumped millions of tons of toxic coal ash in the landfill, residents of Uniontown began years of protests.
In response, Green Group Holdings filed a $30 million defamation lawsuit against four residents, members of a community organizing group called Black Belt Citizens Fighting for Health and Justice. Before suing, the company had offered the residents a deal: they would not sue if the residents provided access to their electronic devices, access to the group’s social media, details about the group’s membership, apologies from each resident, and withdrawal of a federal civil rights complaint with the Environmental Protection Agency.
In February 2017, with legal support from the ACLU, the residents reached a settlement with the company. The company agreed to drop the lawsuit and implement environmental protections.