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Jerry-Russell Bliss, Inc. v. Hazardous Waste Management Comm'n

ELR Citation: 16 ELR 20492
Nos. No. 67115, 702 S.W.2d 77/(Mo., 12/17/1985)

The court holds that the state Hazardous Waste Management Commission's denial of a license to a hazardous waste transporter is not arbitrary and capricious. The Missouri hazardous waste control law applies to preenactment actions, and petitioner can be held responsible for its predecessors-in-interest's actions. The court first rules that petitioner's failure to invoke due process issues before its appeal to this court precludes the court from addressing those claims. The court then holds that the Missouri Hazardous Waste Management Practice Act's licensing provision applies to hazardous waste management practices occurring prior to the statute's enactment. The language of the section at issue contains no qualifying phrase pointing to prospective application. The legislature used both the past and present tenses in the section; excluding preenactment practices would make the use of the past tense a nullity. The court rules that applying the section to preenactment events does not violate the constitutional ban on retroactive application of statutes. Retroactive laws take away vested rights or impose new obligations. The section in question does not attempt to punish practices occurring prior to its effective date, but to provide a consideration for granting or denying that petitioner has no vested right in the issuance of a hazardous waste transporter's license. The court rules that petitioner may be held strictly liable for habitually engaging in hazardous waste practices that posed a threat to human health or the environment. Finally, the court holds that petitioner may be held accountable for its predecessor's debts and liabilities for the purpose of determining petitioner's qualifications for a transporter's license.

Counsel for Petitioner-Appellant
Clifford Schwartz, Charles M. Shaw
Shaw, Howlett & Schwartz
Suite 324T Pkwy. Twr. Bldg., Clayton MO 63124
(314) 725-9700

Counsel for Respondents
William L. Webster, Attorney General; Edward F. Downey, Ass't Attorney General
Supreme Ct. Bldg., P.O. Box 899, Jefferson City MO 65102
(314) 751-3321

BILLINGS, BLACKMAR, DONNELLY, WELLIVER, RENDLEN, JJ., and SIMON, Sp.J., concur.

ROBERTSON, J., not sitting.