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Boothbay, Town of v. Getty Oil Co.

ELR Citation: 30 ELR 20164
Nos. No. 99-1046, 201 F.3d 429/(1st Cir., 10/21/1999)

The court holds that under Maine law, the doctrine of res judicata bars a town from suing a gasoline company for environmental damage affecting the town's water supply insofar as the state previously litigated and settled claims against the same company for the same environmental damage. The court first rejects the town's argument that the state did not adequately represent the town's interest in restoring a clean water supply to the contaminated area. The record demonstrates that the state vigorously pursued the demand that the company finance a waterline extension until it determined that alternative measures would adequately solve the contamination problem. The court also rejects the town's argument that because the state environmental statutes under which the state brought the earlier action reserve to the town a right to bring their own lawsuits, the defense of res judicata is inapplicable in this case. The town asserts a claim for relief that is not supplemental to but rather the same as that previously brought by the state, and nothing suggests that the state legislature wanted to give others the opportunity to bring the same environmental enforcement claim where the state has already done so.

Counsel for Plaintiff
David J. Van Dyke
Berman & Simmons
129 Lisbon St., Lewiston ME 04243
(207) 784-3576

Counsel for Defendants
John J. Aromando
Pierce Atwood
One Monument Sq., Portland ME 04101
(207) 791-1100

Before Cohen, Boudin, Bownes, and Stahl, JJ.