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Bassett v. United States

Citation: 30 ELR 20449
No. No. 98-568L, 46 Fed. Cl. 393/(Fed. Cl., 04/11/2000)

The court grants a limestone quarry owner's motion to amend its takings complaint against the United States in order to reflect additional damages incurred as a result of the taking. The United States, which deposited hazardous waste at the quarry pursuant to a Superfund removal action, conceded liability for the physical taking of the owner's property. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency subsequently informed the owner that it was a potentially responsible party (PRP) with regard to the Agency's cleanup costs at the quarry. The owner then filed a motion to amend to include the additional Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) damages.

The court holds that the permissive standard for amending a pleading dictates that the owner's motion be granted under the facts of this case. Rather than constituting a separate claim under CERCLA, as the United States argues, the owner's motion to amend describes newly alleged damage from the physical taking already conceded by the government. Further, the relationship of the CERCLA action is relevant to the government's taking of the owner's property. If the government removal action that resulted in the physical taking of the owner's property caused the pollution necessitating a Superfund cleanup for which the owner is now considered a PRP, then it is arguably a legitimate area of damage suffered by the owner as a result of the taking.

The full text of this opinion is available from ELR (2 pp., ELR Order No. L-199).

Counsel for Plaintiff
Roger J. Marzulla
Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld
1333 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Ste. 400, Washington DC 20036
(202) 887-4000

Counsel for Defendant
Susan V. Cook
Environment and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 514-2000