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United States v. BASF Corp.

Citation: 28 ELR 21147
990 F. Supp. 907/46 ERC 1601/(E.D. Mich., 01/07/1998)

The court approves a consent decree between the United States and 35 potentially responsible parties (PRPs) for past response costs in a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) cleanup action. The court first holds that the consent decree is substantively fair. The PRPs are paying a percentage of the total cleanup costs that roughly approximates the proportion of the environmental damage attributable to their wastes. The court next holds that the parties' decision to enter into the consent decree was reasonable. The present consent decree, while imperfect, in no way represents an unreasonable settlement of the dispute between the United States and the PRPs. The record indicates that the settlement, which was reached after long and hard-fought arm's length negotiations, fairly reflects the relative strength of the parties' litigating positions and satisfactorily compensates the public for the actual and anticipated costs of remedial and response measures. Taking into account, among other things, the extraordinary amount of the settlement, the resources saved by settlement, the fact that settlement was hard fought, the fact that the PRPs compromised viable claims that their liability was significantly lower than the 68 percent they eventually agreed to, and the risk that the public may come up empty handed without the settlement, the court concludes that the parties' decision to enter into it was reasonable.

The court also holds that the present consent decree furthers the objectives of CERCLA to encourage settlement and secure prompt cleanup. The money received from the PRPs to reimburse the Superfund will assist the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in its efforts to promptly and efficiently clean hazardous waste sites. Moreover, the money received comes appropriately from some of the parties responsible for the landfill's problems.

Counsel for Plaintiff
David G. Hetzel, Ronald W. Zdrojeski
LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae
Goodwin Sq.
225 Asylum St., 13th Fl., Hartford CT 06103
(860) 293-3500

Counsel for Defendants
Ruben Acosta, David H. Fink
Fink & Zausmer
31700 Middlebelt Rd., Ste. 150, Farmington Hills MI 48334
(810) 851-4111