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来自邻国的“污染之惧”绝非烦人:第八巡回赛推翻了等级认证

This week, in 的 case of Smith诉ConocoPhillips管道公司,No.14-2191(8th Cir。  Sept. 15, 2015), 第八巡回法院推翻了地方法院’向某人授予证书 class comprised of property owners who alleged that 的 contamination of a neighboring property, and 的ir fear of its spread, was a nuisance.  第八巡回赛 held that 的 plaintiffs did not provide evidence that 的ir own properties were contaminated and thus denied class certification based on 的 plaintiffs’没有表现出常见伤害。

该案源于1960年代从地下管道泄漏的约100加仑含铅汽油。 被告人的前身 菲利普斯66管道有限责任公司原为 the owner of 的 pipeline at 的 time of 的 leak.  In 2002, Phillips discovered that a small number of residential properties on and nearby 的 property where 的 leak occurred were contaminated.  Phillips purchased 的 contaminated properties from 的 homeowners, demolished 的 homes, excavated impacted soils, and installed a network of on- and off-site wells to monitor 的 potential spread of 的 contamination.  Still, in 2011, 的 plaintiffs, a group of neighboring property owners, brought a putative class action alleging negligence and nuisance claims against Phillips and sought monetary damages for diminution of property values and injunctive relief compelling 的 full remediation of 的 contaminated property.  A second proposed class sought 恢复进行医学监测。 

地下水分析 demonstrated that, while 的 levels of 的 relevant contaminants, BTEX and lead, in on-site wells were high, 的 levels of 的 same substances in off-site wells were all below protection standards. Testing of drinking water in 2011 on 11 properties, including those of 的 named plaintiffs, showed either no detectable levels of contamination or contamination in concentrations below laboratory reporting limits.  Nevertheless, 的 plaintiffs’ expert, a geologist, opined that 的 off-site plume of contamination could have been considerably larger in 的 past, although he did not opine on which properties may have been affected by 的 once-larger plume or which property owners were presently in specific danger of exposure to 的 subject contaminants. 

The district court granted certification to a class of property owners within .25 miles of 的 site on 的 negligence claim for damages and injunctive relief, on 的 的ory that "pockets of contamination" might exist within that geographic radius.  资质认证 of 的 medical monitoring class was denied on 的 basis that 的re was no evidence of actual exposure to 的 spill contaminants. 

However, drawing on consistent decisions from 的 第四巡回赛, 第五巡回赛, and 的 appellate courts of 密西根州, Kansas, 犹他州, and 俄亥俄, 的 第八巡回赛 overturned 的 district court's certification order, concluding 涉及地下泄漏的滋扰性声明必须得到以下证据的支持:“physical invasion” or actual contamination and that it could not rest solely on 的 plaintiffs’据称害怕受到污染或据称财产贬值。 In so holding, 的 court stated that “the putative class fear of contamination spreading from 的 … leak site to harm 的ir property is not a sufficient injury to support a claim for common law nuisance in 的 absence of proof.”

第八巡回赛’该判决是对普通法妨害主义的重要分析,并通过要求提供实际伤害或实际污染的证据,为未来的推定类别设定了合理的标准。