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Union Oil Co. of Cal. v. Leavell

Citation: 30 ELR 20781
No. No. 99-3084, 220 F.3d 562/(7th Cir., 07/18/2000)

The court affirms a district court order requiring specific performance of a settlement agreement between a company and an equipment manufacturer for the cleanup of radium 226 on the company's property. The company alleged that the manufacturer's equipment caused the radium contamination. The manufacturer agreed to pay the company $ 435,000 and deposited another $ 100,000 into an escrow account that could be used for site cleanup. In exchange, the company agreed to perform all cleanup in full cooperation and to the complete satisfaction of the state department of nuclear safety. Notwithstanding this agreement, the company initiated and completed cleanup without state approval and, in so doing, spent all but $ 2,000 of the escrow account. The state rejected the company's cleanup, and the manufacturer sued the company requiring the company to submit a cleanup plan to the state. The manufacturer then sued the state as a third-party defendant, but before the third-party claims were resolved, the district court issued the order now in dispute and the company appealed.

The court first holds that it has jurisdiction. Although the pending nature of the third-party claim puts appellate jurisdiction in question, the district court's order was injunctive in nature, and appeals of injunctions are within appellate jurisdiction. The court next holds that the company's appeal is frivolous. The company began cleanup work before seeking state approval, thereby violating their promise that the state would monitor remediation from beginning to end. Therefore, breach is established and specific performance was an appropriate remedy. Last, the court holds that the district court unnecessarily sealed the record below. Only genuine trade secrets or information within the scope of a requirement such as Rule 6(e)(2) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure may be held in long-term confidence. Therefore, the district court must unseal the record and dissolve any confidentiality orders entered in the case.

The full text of this opinion is available from ELR (7 pp., ELR Order No. L-245).

Counsel for Plaintiff
Richard Potler
Coburn Law Offices
One Mercantile Center, St. Louis MO 63101
(314) 552-6000

Counsel for Defendants
Christopher Heid
Law Offices of Christopher Heid
118 N. Church St., Carmi IL 62821
(618) 382-4098