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United States v. Seymour Recycling Corp.

Citation: 19 ELR 20523
No. No. IP-80-457-C, 686 F. Supp. 696/27 ERC 2173/(S.D. Ind., 06/08/1988) Contribution claims allowed

The court holds that contribution claims may be asserted against a municipality and a local aviation board by the generator defendants in a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) cost recovery action brought by the United States. The municipality and the aviation board have an ownership interest in the contaminated site. An earlier consent decree and various other settlement agreements among the parties failed to include a provision protecting the municipality and the aviation board from suit. The contribution claims are not statutorily barred under CERCLA § 113(f)(2), since the liability of the municipality and the aviation board to the United States was not resolved in the settlement. In addition, the settlement did not address matters underlying potential claims for contribution. The court also holds that because CERCLA preempts state tort claim statutes, the defendants' noncompliance with the Indiana Tort Claims Act does not bar the claims.

The court denies the generator defendants' motion for summary judgment on the ground that it is not ripe for adjudication. The generator defendants have not yet resolved their liability to the United States. Hence, their request for declaratory relief on the contribution claims is premature.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Kurt Weissmuller
Land and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2436

Counsel for Defendants
Jeffrey J. Lorenzo
800 W. Second St., P.O. Box 186, Seymour IN 47274
(812) 523-3433

William C. Barnard
Sommer & Barnard
54 Monument Cir., 9th Fl., Indianapolis IN 46204
(317) 639-5400