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R.R. St. & Co. v. Pilgrim Enters., Inc.

Citation: 35 ELR 20115
No. No. 02-0758, (Tex., 06/10/2005)

The court held that an equipment and chemical supplier who gave advice to a dry cleaning service regarding waste disposal is not subject to "arranger liability" under the Texas Solid Waste Disposal Act (SWDA). In addition to the "totality of the circumstances," the court focused on the degree of control that the supplier actually exercised over the method or manner of disposal. Although the presence of authority to make disposal decisions is not necessarily a prerequisite for arranger status, such as when a party physically disposes of solid waste with no authority to do so, it is a key factor when arranger status is based on mere advice regarding disposal that another party is free to ignore. Given the absence of any obligation with regard to waste disposal decisions, the supplier's lack of ownership of or authority over the chemicals that the dry cleaner discarded, and the fact that the dry cleaner never ceded ultimate control over this aspect of its operations, the appellate court erred in holding that the supplier's advice rendered it a "person responsible for solid waste" under the Texas SWDA. In addition, the appellate court erred in holding the supplier liable as an arranger when it poured waste from a vial test down a drain because a fact exists as to whether the domestic sewage exclusion applies. The decision was therefore reversed and remanded.