LOS ANGELES — The city of Irwindale, east of Los Angeles, will broaden its lawsuit against the makers of Sriracha hot sauce, adding a breach-of-contract claim to its current nuisance complaint, an attorney said.
After multiple Irwindale residents began to complain about a spicy odor coming from the sauce maker’s factory last year, the city filed suit against Huy Fong Foods, claiming the odor was a public nuisance. The city wants a permanent injunction on the factory’s operations, and both parties are negotiating over what odor-abatement technology to install.
Irwindale officials say Huy Fong Foods violated a condition of its operating permit by emitting harmful odors. The city plans to file a motion to amend its complaint and add the breach-of-contract claim in the next few weeks.
Stephen Onstot, attorney for the city, said Friday that the facts of the case have not changed. “This is just a different legal theory that we could prevail upon,” Onstot said.
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In November, a judge granted the city’s request for a temporary shutdown and ordered the factory to cease any odor-causing operations in December. Soon after, officials with the California Department of Public Health began to enforce stricter guidelines and ordered Sriracha to hold its sauces for 30 days before shipping.
At least 18 households have filed complaints with the city, according to court records.
Multiple residents complained of searing red dust and particles in the air and compared the sensation to pepper spray. One woman said her children were having more frequent nosebleeds. Others complained of swollen glands. Another said he was forced to take heartburn medication when he encountered the odor while jogging.