A Webster-area couple targeted by a Churchville company's defamation suit has won a default order against the company, claiming it failed to respond to their $3.4 million counter-suit in a timely manner.

In response, Maryland Reclamation Associates Inc., whose proposal to run a rubble and asbestos dump are tied up in court, has asked Harford Circuit Judge Cypert O. Whitfill to vacate the order he issued against the company.

George H. and Winifred Jonas of Paradise Road won the default order on Aug. 2 after submitting papers to the judge, saying Maryland Reclamation had not responded to their May 11 counter-suit.

Maryland Reclamation sued the Jonases and two other Webster-area foes of the company's plan for a 55-acre dump on Gravel Hill Road on March 12, seeking $2.7 million in damages. In its suit, Maryland Reclamation alleges the Jonases defamed the company and trespassed on its land.

In their counter-suit, the Jonases claim Maryland Reclamation sued them to muzzle their opposition and deny their constitutional rights to speak at public hearings regarding the rubble fill.

Dump opponents Sylvia Hutsell and Delores Walke also were named as defendants in the suit.

Although the County Council in November put the proposed dump into the county solid waste plan, it reopened the hearings in March after the Jonases and other Webster-area residents questioned the decision.

After the hearings ended in May, the council voted to take the proposed dump out of the solid waste plan, putting a halt to Maryland Reclamation's application for a state permit to run the dump. Maryland Reclamation sued the county government and council three days later, asking for a court order nullifying the council vote.

Judge Whitfill is expected to rule on the company's summary motion for an order soon.

In its motion to vacate the order of default, Maryland Reclamation says the Jonas counter-suit does not have merit.

Also, the motion says the company's lawyers missed the 30-day deadline to respond to the default order because they "overlooked the fact that a response was due as a result of the press of numerous ongoing trials and other business." Maryland Reclamation argues its lawyers were not notified of the order until Aug. 24 -- 22 days after Whitfill signed the order.

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