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Corbello v. Iowa Prod.

Citation: 33 ELR 20230
No. No. 02-C-0826, (La., 06/20/2003)

The court grants a partial rehearing to clarify its views on the required burden of proof in environmental pollution cases, which remains proof by a preponderance of the evidence. An oil company that sought rehearing argued that language in the court's previous opinion stated that damage to an aquifer was speculative. Contrary to the company’s argument, the few sentences it cited should not be seized upon as allowing compensation if the harm done is only potential, as opposed to actual harm. Proof of actual damages by a preponderance of evidence is required to be entitled to compensation for environmental damages. Here, the plaintiffs met their evidentiary burden and established that the company polluted their property and established the amount of compensation necessary to remediate the property. The plaintiffs also established that this contamination posed a substantial risk to the aquifer. The evidence in this case clearly supports a conclusion by the jury that the groundwater beneath the plaintiffs’ property was polluted by the company. Thus, an award for restoration, including the $28 million for cleanup of the groundwater, was within the jury’s discretion.

[Counsel not available at this printing.]