Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

United States v. Price

ELR Citation: 13 ELR 20843
Nos. No. 80-4104, 577 F. Supp. 1103/19 ERC 1638/(D.N.J., 07/28/1983) Ruling on generator liability

The court rules that §106(a) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) authorizes abatement actions against non-negligent, past, off-site generators of hazardous waste. Initially, the court rules that the existence of several receipts indicating that one generator's wastes were dumped in Price's landfill constitutes sufficient grounds to bring that defendant into the lawsuit under Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Next the court rules that §107, which establishes liability for "costs incurred," does not allow the Environmental Protection Agency to seek recovery of response costs before it has expended any cleanup funds itself.

The court holds that §106 of CERCLA does, however, apply to non-negligent, past, off-site generators, rejecting the reasoning of the district court in United States v. Wade, 12 ELR 21051. Defendants' argument that the only CERCLA response to problems resulting from completed disposal is the Superfund is inconsistent with the purpose of CERCLA to speed the elimination of dangerous waste disposal sites. The court also rules that the standard of liability under §106 is found in the liability provisions of §107. The language of the statute and the purposes of CERCLA lead to the conclusion that §107 establishes strict liability. Finally, the court rejects defendants' motion for summary judgment based on the lack of relevant evidence linking it to the problems at Price's Landfill. Summary judgment on such a motion is premature since discovery is not complete. However, the court states its intention to issue an order to speed the discovery process so that outstanding issues about the inclusion of certain defendants could be resolved expeditiously and progress could be made toward cleaning up the waste disposal site.

[Related decisions are reported at 11 ELR 21047 and 12 ELR 21020 — Ed.]

Counsel for Plaintiff
Ralph A. Jacobs, Ass't U.S. Attorney
970 Broad St., Rm. 502, Newark NJ 07102
(201) 645-2155

Counsel for Defendants
Ralph N. Del Deo
Crummy, Del Deo, Dolan & Purcell
Gateway I, Newark NJ 07102
(201) 622-2235

David A. Parker
Parker, McCay & Criscuolo
115 High St., Mt. Holly NJ 08060
(609) 267-2850