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ABB Indus. Sys., Inc. v. Prime Tech., Inc.

Citation: 29 ELR 20552
No. CIV. 3:91CV533(PCD), 32 F. Supp. 2d 38/(D. Conn., 08/19/1998)

The court denies a potentially responsible party's (PRP's) motion to bifurcate the trial of a property owner's Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) contribution claims against the PRP for cleanup costs. The PRP sought to bifurcate the trial into two phases, with one phase focusing on the owner's compliance with the national contingency plan (NCP), and the other phase addressing expert hydrology and damages issues. The court first holds that the owner has a remaining Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) claim against the PRP. Factual issues remain concerning RCRA's imminent and substantial requirement. Further, by not seeking injunctive relief between the filing of its claim and the trial, the owner did not waive its RCRA claim, and laches did not bar the owner from bringing its claims. Similarly, the court also holds that factual issues, which cannot be resolved through a motion to bifurcate, remain concerning the owner's compliance with the NCP.

The court next holds that bifurcation of the owner's CERCLA claims is inappropriate. Duplication of testimony and evidence concerning the owner's NCP compliance and the PRP's liability would be unavoidable. Such evidence would also be relevant to the resolution of the RCRA claim, and a second trial phase solely for allocation of damages would seem to unnecessarily prolong the litigation in a case lacking a multitude of responsible defendants.

[A prior decision in this litigation is published at 27 ELR 21335.]

Counsel for Plaintiff
Taggart D. Adams
Kelley, Drye & Warren
Two Stamford Plaza
281 Tresser Blvd., Stamford CT 06901
(203) 324-1400

Counsel for Defendants
Charles T. Lee
Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker
1055 Washington Blvd., Stamford CT 06901
(203) 961-7400