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Briggs & Stratton Corp. v. Concrete Sales & Servs., Inc.

Citation: 28 ELR 20063
No. 5:95-cv-525-1, 971 F. Supp. 566/(M.D. Ga., 07/07/1997)

The court holds that a nail manufacturer did not own or control the hazardous materials generated by an electroplating company and, thus, is not liable under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) as an arranger of hazardous waste. The court first holds that the nail manufacturer never owned or possessed the chemicals used in the electroplating process or the hazardous substances generated in that process. The limited period of the nail manufacturer's ownership of the nonconforming nails cannot be magnified into an ownership or possession of the hazardous substances sufficient to trigger CERCLA § 9607 liability. The court next holds that the nail manufacturer's mere exercise of business influence over the electroplating company does not equate to controlling that company's hazardous waste disposal methods. Therefore, the nail manufacturer's failure to prevent the generation of hazardous substances by the electroplating company cannot justify a finding of liability unless there was some underlying duty to act. The court also holds that the nail manufacturer's providing specifications to the electroplating company for the type of finished product it required for ultimate sale is an insufficient basis on which to find arranger liability. Furthermore, the court rejects the electroplating company's continuing nuisance or trespass claims against the nail manufacturer. Under Georgia state law, the nail manufacturer did not have a legal duty to involve itself in the electroplating company's handling of hazardous substances. The court also rejects the electroplating company's state-law indemnification claims for negligence. The nail manufacturer is not liable for the electroplating company's negligent treatment or disposal of hazardous wastes.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Joan B. Cravey
Troutman Sanders
5200 NationsBank Plaza
600 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta GA 30308
(404) 885-3000

Counsel for Defendants
L. Robert Lovett
Lovett, Cowart & Ayerbe
2904 Vineville Ave., Macon GA 31202
(912) 750-0200