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United States v. Argent Corp.

Citation: 14 ELR 20616
No. No. 83-0523 BB, 21 ERC 1354/(D.N.M., 09/14/1983) Ruling on lessor liability

The court rules that the lessor of a site where hazardous substances were released is a potentially liable party under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). The court first rules that the plain language of § 107(a) of CERCLA makes the owner of land on which there is a hazardous substance release potentially liable notwithstanding the fact that the owner has no involvement in the operation of the activity causing the release. The language of CERCLA, its legislative history, and applicable precedent all point to this conclusion. The court also rules that the landowner cannot avail himself of CERCLA § 107(b)'s third-party defense. The lease between the landowner and the hazardous substance disposer is a contractual link that clearly negates the third-party defense of § 107(b).

Counsel are listed at 14 ELR 20497.