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St. Charles Mfg. Ltd. Partnership v. Whirlpool Corp.

Citation: 35 ELR 20039
No. No. 04-1762, (7th Cir., 02/11/2005)

The Seventh Circuit held that the adequacy of a "no further remediation" letter issued by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency is an issue for the state agency to decide. Under a contract between the former owner and subsequent owner of land, the former owner would be released from all claims concerning preexisting conditions at the site once it cleaned up the property and obtained a comprehensive "no further remediation" letter from the state environmental agency. The former owner cleaned up the land and obtained the letter, and the subsequent owner then sold the land. The subsequent owner, however, argued that it had to sell the property at a discounted price because the former owner made misrepresentations to the agency in order to obtain the letter. The subsequent owner sued the former owner claiming that it violated the contract because the letter was invalid. Yet only the state agency can void the letter, as it has expertise in these matters and is the proper authority for determining whether the former owner engaged in fraud or made misrepresentations. Because the letter remains legitimate, the contract has not been violated.