Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

OSI, Inc. v. United States

Citation: 32 ELR 20501
No. No. 01-13032, 285 F.3d 947/(11th Cir., 03/12/2002)

The court affirms a district court dismissal of a manufacturer's state-law claims against the United States alleging contamination of its property by U.S. Air Force landfills, but reverses the district court's dismissal of the manufacturer's Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) claims. The court first holds that the discretionary function exception to the Federal Torts Claims Act (FTCA) bars the manufacturer's state-law claims. The Air Force's determination to have a landfill is a discretionary function. Manuals that govern landfill decisions by the Air Force do not create mandatory obligations that fall outside the discretionary function exception. The manuals state general principles and objectives that, alone, do not equate to a specific, mandatory directive. Further, the disposal of waste on a military base involves policy choices of the kind that the discretionary function exception is designed to shield. The district court, therefore, properly dismissed the FTCA claims for lack of jurisdiction. The court then holds, however, that the district court inadequately explained its grant of summary judgment to the United States on the manufacturer's RCRA and CERCLA claims. The order makes no specific factual or legal findings, merely stating instead that the court was in agreement with the government's jurisdictional and substantive arguments pertaining to the RCRA and CERCLA claims. The summary judgment order was therefore vacated and remanded for further consideration.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Robert P. Fowler
Balch & Bingham
1710 6th Ave. N., Birmingham AL 35201
(205) 251-8100

Counsel for Defendants
J. Charles Kruse
Environment and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 514-2000

Anderson, J. Before Dubina and Mills, * JJ.

* Honorable Richard Mills, U.S. District Judge for the Central District of Illinois, sitting by designation.