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法院认定根据CERCLA第107(a)条可分割的混合地下水羽造成危害

自美国最高法院作出裁决以来已有十多年了 伯灵顿北部&顺丰R. Co.诉美国,129 S. Ct。 1870(2009),认为根据CERCLA第107(a)条承担的责任并不一定是连带责任,而是在适当情况下可以分割的责任。然而,法院仍然难以确定何时责任可分割,因此应由责任人分配而不是公平分配,后者,连带责任和若干责任仍然是违约责任。美国印第安纳州南区地方法院在2020年3月30日的判决中 冯·杜普林, LLC v. 莫兰 电动 Service, Inc.,编号1:16-cv-01942-TWP—DML(S.D. Ind。Ind.2020年3月30日)也不例外。法院裁定,对挥发性有机化合物的混合羽状物应承担责任(“VOCs”)是可分割的,但随后运用公平因素来分配责任。而且,在做出最终判决时,法院还讨论了根据107(a)(确定国家应急计划的标准)所能收回的费用(“NCP”),以及承租人需要采取什么步骤来利用善意的潜在购买者(“BFPP”)防御。这将是一个很长的时间,所以请拉起椅子。

当事人,事实和诉讼 

原告冯·杜普林有限责任公司及其公司前身(“Von Duprin”)在印第安纳波利斯东北部拥有和经营的财产,并与其运营有关,将PCE,TCE和其他有害化学物质释放到土壤中。 2009年,范·杜普林(Van Duprin)将房产出售给Threaded Rod Company之后,印第安纳州环境管理部(“IDEM”) determined that the property and groundwater was contaminated with 挥发性有机化合物 and notified 冯·杜普林 that it was a potentially responsible 派对 in 八月 2013. Van Duprin thereafter began investigating vapor intrusion at downgradient properties, installed vapor mitigation systems in residences of affected downgradient properties, and researched potential methods of in situ remediation of the groundwater plume, all with IDEM’s involvement. In addition, 冯·杜普林 paid Threaded Rod $1.5 million in settlement of claims resulting from the contamination.

莫兰电气服务有限公司(“Moran”) had owned and operated two properties upgradient from the Van Duprin property, the 莫兰 property and the Zimmer property (which consisted of two parcels). 莫兰 released 挥发性有机化合物 in its operations on the 莫兰 property. 重大的 Holdings, LLC and 重大的 Tool and Machine, Inc. (“Major”) subsequently leased and then purchased the 莫兰 and Zimmer properties and a third property, the Ertel property, which was also upgradient from the Van Duprin property. 重大的 did not use 挥发性有机化合物 or any of the hazardous substances in question on the properties.

In 2016, 冯·杜普林 filed its action for cost recovery under Section 107(a) and for declaratory relief under 113(g)(2) of 塞拉 against 莫兰 and 重大的, as well as the former owner and operator of the Zimmer property, Zimmer Paper Products, although Zimmer Paper Products never appeared in the action and had default entered against it. Van Duprin sought costs totaling $3,238,945.80, which included the amount paid to Threaded Rod in settlement and IDEM’的监督费用。反过来,Moran和Major主张根据第113(f)条交叉主张和反主张,要求为分配给他们的任何责任做出贡献。

根据简易判决,法院裁定了两个重要问题:(1)尽管地下水羽流中含有来自各种来源的污染物,但责任可以分摊;(2)Major是对Moran财产的BFBF,对于一个组成Zimmer属性的两个地块(“Packaging Parcel,”),但由于事实问题,它无法就Ertel物业或其他Zimmer物业地块(“Paper Parcel.”) The Court held a bench trial in 七月 and 八月 of 2019, addressing factual issues as to which costs were recoverable, the apportionment of past and future costs at the Site, and whether 重大的 could avail itself of the 高炉 defense for the Ertel Property or the 纸包裹。  

高炉 Liability

The Court found that 重大的 was not entitled to assert the 高炉 for either the Ertel property or the 纸包裹。 As to the Ertel property, although 重大的 completed a Phase I prior to leasing the property, it was not completed or renewed within 180 days prior to entering into the lease of the property, a requirement of the “所有适当的查询”BFPP测试的插脚。 40 CFR§312.20。至于纸包裹,法院裁定,在购买前进行的第一阶段,虽然遵守当时有效的此类评估的ASTM标准,但仍未达到40 C.F.R.§§ 312.21 and 312.22.

第107条和可除性

关于可分割性问题,法院指出,由于有可能确定每种财产造成污染的程度,因此“true but irrelevant”一旦它们进入羽状流并降低梯度,就不可能说出VOC的来源。在这方面,法院主要依靠莫兰的证词’的专家,他利用了来自所有四个属性的大量采样数据,包括“数千个单独的数据点, ” to determine both the magnitude and the chemical characteristics of the discharges from each of the properties. Using this information, the expert found that the 冯·杜普林 property contributed 54.2% of the solvents, the 莫兰 property 3.11%, the Zimmer property 28.94%, and the Ertel property 13.77%. So far, so good.

但是,法院随后依靠未指明的其他在审判中提供的证据,将公平因素适用于“allocate” 50% of the liability to the 冯·杜普林 property, 20% to the 莫兰 property, 20% to the Zimmer property 10% to the Ertel property. The Court performed this apparent equitable allocation notwithstanding its express adoption of the principle that “公平考虑因素在分配分析中不起作用,” citing 伯灵顿北部。实际上,很难将这两个概念纳入法院’s decision.

然后,法院在确定出处之间的责任后,在决定每一当事方时恢复了可分割性。’s liability for the properties. As to the 50% liability attributed to the 冯·杜普林 property the Court found 冯·杜普林 100% responsible and as to the 10% liability attributable to the Ertel property the Court found 重大的 100% liable, those parties being the only ones left standing in the litigation for each property. With regard to the 莫兰 property, because the Court determined that 重大的 was a 高炉 for that parcel, 莫兰 was held 100% responsible, again as the only 派对 standing. Finally, the Court found 重大的 100% liable for the Zimmer property as there was no evidence that 莫兰 had contaminated the property. Thus, the Court held that for both past recoverable and future costs, 莫兰 was liable to 冯·杜普林 for 20% and 重大的 was liable for 30%.

But even after all of that, the Court went on to state that 冯·杜普林 must bear “任何应占份额” to contamination from the Packaging Parcel because 重大的 had a 高炉 defense to liability and 冯·杜普林 did not establish any other 派对’对那部分伤害承担责任。但是– neither the Court nor the parties appear to have identified any such liability, and all of the past costs were fully 分配d by the final order.

这一切非常非常令人困惑吗?是的。法院是否真的依靠这里的可分性分析,或者只是依据原本根据交叉供款和反诉而应进行的分配?后者似乎是事实,两者都是因为它依靠公平的因素来重新调整每个包裹的责任(这些因素通常用于确定一个 派对’s share of joint liability) and because rather than leaving 冯·杜普林 holding the bag for any portion of liability attributable to absent PRPs as would be the case if the harm was divisible, the Court merely 分配d 100% of those costs to one of the two defendants.

可收回成本

Finally, in what may end up being the more important aspect of the opinion, the Court analyzed each of the past costs that 冯·杜普林 was seeking to determine whether they were recoverable as “必要的响应费用” that “与[NCP]一致。” A private 派对 response is consistent with the 国家协调委员会 if the action, when evaluated as a whole, is in substantial compliance with the 国家协调委员会’s applicable requirements, and results in a 塞拉质量 cleanup. 40 C.F.R. § 300.700(c)(3)(i).

最初,法院认为,因为“许多NCP要求不适用于回应的调查阶段,”调查费用不必与NCP一致,因此无需进一步评估即可收回。对于补救费用本身,法院对与冯·杜普林有关的9项NCP一般规定进行了严格的分析’的响应成本,并发现冯·杜普林(Von Duprin)仅完全遵守其中一些要求,并且不遵守许多要求,包括进行工程评估/成本分析或同等要求,创建采样和分析计划或质量保证项目计划的要求,并准备和实施健康与安全计划。法院还认定,冯·杜普林(Von Duprin)仅部分满足了所有适用或相关和适当要求的要求,以及满足社区充分参与补救的要求。然而,法院裁定“taken as a whole,” 冯·杜普林’补救措施基本上符合NCP,并导致了CERCLA质量的清理。法院指出,冯·杜普林’的合规性并不完美,但有理由认为,由于CERCLA应该被宽泛地解释为既要进行环境清理又要对责任负责,“NCP要求并非旨在成为私人补救措施的清单。”

There were two costs, however, that the Court excluded. First, the Court found that the $1.5 million paid to Threaded Rod was not recoverable under Section 107 because it was not a clean-up cost incurred by 冯·杜普林 – but that the cost might have been recoverable under Section 113(g)(3), had 冯·杜普林 plead such a claim, which it did not. (Section 113(g)(3) is actually the statute providing the limitations period for contribution claims that are brought pursuant to Section 113(f)). The Court also rejected 冯·杜普林’s claim for IDEM oversight costs as there was insufficient evidence that these costs related to oversight of the groundwater plume work, as opposed to remediation of the 冯·杜普林 property itself.

那么,从这个案例中学到什么教训呢?有几个。首先,采用科学方法进行分配的优秀专家将大大有助于在审判中为当事方提供信誉。其次,受污染财产的购买者必须仔细注意BFPP辩护的要求,尤其是进行所有适当查询的标准。第三,虽然不需要完全遵守NCP来收回成本,但实质性的遵守会导致成本下降。“CERCLA-quality”清理是。最后,可分性分析的应用在许多情况下仍然是一个挑战,而且很少干净或简单。