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Kalamazoo River Study Group v. Rockwell Int'l Corp.

Citation: 29 ELR 21003
No. 97-1964, 171 F.3d 1065/48 ERC 1289/(6th Cir., 03/26/1999)

The court affirms a district court grant of summary judgment in favor of a manufacturer alleged to have contributed to a Michigan river's polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) contamination. An association of potentially responsible parties claimed that PCBs in the manufacturer's drainage ditch leaked into a lake that flowed into the river. The court first holds that the manufacturer adequately demonstrated that any PCBs from its property could not have migrated down the ditch into the lake and the river. The manufacturer provided hydrological evidence that demonstrates that the ditch could not have acted as a conduit of PCBs to the river. The court next holds that the scientific evidence that provides the foundation for the association's expert opinion on causation was not sufficient to allow a jury to find that it is more probable than not that the manufacturer caused contamination at the site. The association's expert failed to produce any affirmative evidence that the water flow in the ditch was sufficient to carry PCBs down the ditch and into the lake. In addition, assuming the association's contention regarding water flow to be true, one would reasonably expect to find PCB levels throughout the length of the ditch, but it is undisputed that there exists a nearly 1,700-foot gap in the ditch where no PCBs have been detected.

[A prior decision in this litigation is published at 28 ELR 21139.]

Counsel for Plaintiff
Jerome T. Wolf
Sonnenschein, Nath & Rosenthal
4520 Main St., Ste. 1100, Kansas City MO 64111
(816) 932-4400

Counsel for Defendants
Daniel P. Perk
Miller, Johnson, Snell & Cummiskey
250 Monroe Ave. NW, Ste. 800, Grand Rapids MI 49503
(616) 831-1700

Before Merritt and Gilman, JJ.