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Kalik v. Allis-Chalmers Corp.

Citation: 17 ELR 20879
No. No. 86-966, 658 F. Supp. 631/25 ERC 2040/(W.D. Pa., 04/15/1987)

In this private action against manufacturers and suppliers of electrical components containing PCBs under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and state products liability law, the court rules that CERCLA provides an independent basis for asserting federal jurisdiction over nondiverse defendants. Turning first to plaintiffs' products liability and negligent failure to warn claims, the court holds that the dismantling and processing of the electrical components by plaintiffs was not reasonably foreseeable to defendant manufacturers. The court also holds that plaintiffs' complaint was timely filed since the two-year statute of limitations for tort claims did not begin to run until plaintiffs' discovered that the site was contaminated, even though the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had previously initiated an enforcement action against plaintiffs for improper storage and handling of PCBs.

The court next rules that CERCLA provides an independent basis for asserting federal jurisdiction over nondiverse defendants. Thus, the fact that there is no diversity of citizenship between some of the suppliers and the plaintiffs, owners of the dioxin and PCB-contaminated site, does not affect the court's otherwise complete diversity jurisdiction over the manufacturers. The court then holds that even if the "unclean hands" defense is available to defendants under CERCLA, plaintiffs' complaint fails to establish the defense. The court also holds that EPA's earlier enforcement action likewise does not establish the "unclean hands" defense.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Carl R. Schiffman, David L. Schwartz
Voelker, Schiffman, Parise & Wojdowski
1300 Fifth Ave., Pittsburgh PA 15219
(412) 288-9444

Counsel for Defendant
Kenneth Argentieri
Kirkpatrick & Lockhart
1500 Oliver Bldg., Pittsburgh PA 15222
(412) 355-6500