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Illinois v. Grigoleit Co.

Citation: 30 ELR 20775
No. No. 98-CV-2261, 104 F. Supp. 2d 967/(C.D. Ill., 07/14/2000)

The court holds on motions for summary judgment that a manufacturer and a newspaper company are liable under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) for allowing a landowner to dispose of their waste on his property without a permit. The court first holds that the state environmental agency's complaint was timely filed regardless of whether activity at the site is characterized as a removal or remedial action. Because hazardous substances remain at the site, a removal action has not been completed and the three-year statute of limitations has not run. Similarly, because a remedial action could not have started until 1993, the complaint, which was filed less than six years after this date, was timely.

The court next holds that the manufacturer and newspaper are liable under CERCLA. The property is a "facility" under CERCLA. Moreover, both parties are responsible persons under CERCLA. The newspaper and manufacturer arranged for the disposal. Further, the newspaper's drums contained components listed as hazardous under the Clean Air Act and, thus, must be considered hazardous under CERCLA. The evidence also shows that drums on the property that came from the manufacturer contained hazardous substances. In addition, a release of a hazardous substance occurred. The drums, which were abandoned and discarded at the site, contained hazardous substances that leaked. This evidence is sufficient to show a release. Further, the manufacturer and newspaper failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact with regard to the three affirmative defenses available under CERCLA § 107(b), and because the harm at the facility was indivisible, they are jointly and severally liable for response costs incurred at the site. Finally, the release caused the state agency to incur response costs. Consistency with the national contingency plan is not relevant to the issue of liability.

The court also holds that because the state is entitled to summary judgment as to liability under CERCLA, the state is entitled to summary judgment as to liability under the Illinois Environmental Protection Act. In addition, the court holds that a party who technically held an equitable interest in the property as an heir to the original owner's estate from the date of that owner's death until the property was transferred to her brother by warranty deed cannot be held liable under CERCLA under a trust fund theory. The court also granted a motion to strike the property owner's cross-claim against the manufacturer, denied the manufacturer's motion to compel certain documents and certification, and ordered the state to disclose certain financial documents to the manufacturer and the newspaper.

Counsel for Plaintiff
James L. Morgan
Attorney General's Office
500 S. Second St., Springfield IL 62706
(217) 782-1090

Counsel for Defendants
Frederic L. Kenney
Winters, Featherstun, Gaumer, Kenney, Postelwait, Stocks & Flynn
225 N. Water St., Ste. 200, Decatur IL 62525
(217) 429-4453