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More legal woes for Sriracha plant in fight with Irwindale

The city of Irwindale will broaden its lawsuit against the makers of Sriracha hot sauce, adding a breach-of-contract claim to its current complaint, an attorney announced Friday.

After multiple residents began to complain about a spicy odor coming from the sauce maker's factory in Irwindale last year, the city filed suit against Huy Fong Foods, claiming the smell was a public nuisance. The city wants a permanent injunction on the factory's operations, and both parties are currently negotiating over what smell-abatement technology to install. 

Irwindale officials say that 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 sometime in the next few weeks.

Stephen Onstot, attorney for the city, said that the facts of the case have not changed.

"This is just a different legal theory that we could prevail upon," Onstot said.

Last 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 alleged that her children were having more frequent nosebleeds. Others complained of swollen glands. Another said that he was forced to take heartburn medication when he encountered the smell while jogging. 

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frank.shyong@latimes.com
Twitter: @frankshyong 

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