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Seneca Meadows, Inc. v. ECI Liquidating, Inc.

Citation: 29 ELR 20224
No. 95-CV-6400L, 16 F. Supp. 2d 255/(W.D.N.Y., 08/06/1998)

The court holds that the owner of a contaminated landfill may only recover response costs from alleged generators of hazardous waste through a contribution action under Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) § 113. The court first holds that the owner of the landfill where hazardous substances were disposed of is a potentially responsible party (PRP). The court also finds that the generators, who allegedly arranged for the disposal of hazardous substances at the landfill, are PRPs. The court then holds that the landfill owner may not proceed against the generators under CERCLA § 107 because the nature of the claim is for contribution under § 113. Circuit courts have held that only an innocent party, who has undertaken a cleanup, may bring a § 107 cost recovery action to recover all of its response costs. A PRP, on the other hand, is limited to a § 113 contribution claim to recover only those response costs that exceed its equitable share. Accordingly, the generators' motion for partial summary judgment with respect to the landfill owner's § 107 claim is granted.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Terry M. Richman
Underberg & Kessler
1800 Chase Sq., Rochester NY 14604
(716) 258-2800

Counsel for Defendants
Robert E. Glanville
Phillips, Lytle, Hitchcock, Blaine & Huber
3400 Marine Midland Ctr., Buffalo NY 14203
(716) 847-8400