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Wehner v. Syntex Corp.

Citation: 17 ELR 21218
No. No. C-85-20383-WAI, 682 F. Supp. 39/26 ERC 1671/(N.D. Cal., 09/08/1987) Jury trial denied

The court rules that there is no right to a jury trial in an action for private response costs under § 107 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). Under Tull v. United States, 17 ELR 20667, the Seventh Amendment provides a jury trial in actions that are analogous to suits at common law. Numerous courts have held that actions for recovery of necessary costs under CERCLA are equitable in nature and do not give rise to the right to a jury trial. Although plaintiffs, unlike the government in other CERCLA response cost actions, may not be characterized as seeking restitution for costs incurred in discharging the duties of polluters to clean up, plaintiffs' claim is nevertheless an equitable one. Language in CERCLA indicates that the statute is intended for the public good, and the relief sought by plaintiffs, which does not include penalties or punitive damages, is unlike relief sought at common law.

[Opinions in a related case are published at 14 ELR 20265; 15 ELR 20210, 20346, 21018. Earlier opinions in this case are published at 16 ELR 20406 and 17 ELR 20957.]

Counsel are listed at 17 ELR 20957.