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United States v. Mahler

Citation: 14 ELR 20068
No. No. 82-1545, 20 ERC 1738/(M.D. Pa., 01/05/1984)

The court refuses to dismiss a suit for reimbursement for oil spill cleanup costs under § 311(f)(2) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, ruling that the complaint adequately alleged actions that would make the defendant personally liable for cleanup, and that the court has personal jurisdiction over the defendant. Five corporations under the defendant's control allegedly dumped oil and chemical wastes down a mine drainage tunnel, causing a 35-mile oil slick on the Susquehanna River. Defendant argued that he is not personally liable for the acts of his corporations. The court holds that the complaint does not allege liability by virtue of corporate ownership or office, but rather by virtue of defendant's personal direction and participation in the dumping. These acts would make defendant liable independent of his relationship to the corporations. The court also rules that since the suit concerns a federal statute, the court has personal jurisdiction over defendant as a resident of the United States even though defendant may lack minimum contacts with Pennsylvania. The court incidentally grants motions for further discovery and a continuance.

Counsel for Plaintiff
David C. Shipman, Ass't U.S. Attorney
Fed. Bldg., P.O. Box 209, Scranton PA 18501
(717) 348-2800

Michael W. Steinberg
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-3144

Counsel for Defendant
Moray Myers
Gelb, Myers, Bishop & Warren
600 Penn Security Bank Bldg., Scranton PA 18503
(717) 346-8414