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United States v. C&R Trucking Co.

Citation: 12 ELR 20966
No. No. 81-0071-P(H), 537 F. Supp. 1080/(N.D. W. Va., 04/28/1982)

In an action to assess a civil penalty and to recover oil spill cleanup costs under § 311 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA), the court rules that the government's causes of action were brought within the applicable statutes of limitations. Because § 311 of the FWPCA does not specify a limitations period, removal cost actions are governed by 28 U.S.C. § 2415, which sets a six-year limit for contractual claims and a three-year limit for tort claims. The court holds that the government's cause of action for recovery of removal costs, pursuant to § 311(f)(2) of the FWPCA, sounds in quasi-contract for the purposes of establishing the limitation period. Because the government is seeking restitution for money expended, not compensatory damages, the FWPCA should be construed liberally to accomplish its purposes. As a result, the six-year limitation applies to the removal cost action and the claim is not barred. The court also rules that the civil penalty claim under § 311(b)(6) is governed by 28 U.S.C. § 2462, and finds that the government's action was filed within the five-year limit set by that section.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Betsy C. Steinfeld, Ass't U.S. Attorney
P.O. Box 591, Wheeling WV 26003
(304) 232-4026

Diane L. Donley; Carol E. Dinkins, Ass't Attorney General
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-5386

Counsel for Defendant
Ronald W. Kasserman
Galbraith, Seibert, Kasserman, Farnsworth, Gillenwater & Glauser
1217 Chapline St., Wheeling WV 26003
(304) 233-1220

W. H. Ballard II
Ballard & Brumfield
Tyson Towers Bldg., 8 Bank St., Welch WV 204801
(304) 436-4101