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United States v. Reilly Tar & Chem. Corp.

ELR Citation: 13 ELR 20897
Nos. No. 4-80-469, 20 ERC 1052/(D. Minn., 06/23/1983) Motion for jury trial granted

The court grants defendant's motion for a jury trial in a suit alleging violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), and state statutory and common law. Although the defendant's motion for a jury trial is untimely under FED. R. CIV. P. 38(b), the court grants the motion, relying on its discretion to do so under FED. R. CIV. P. 39(b) and its determination that the legal issues are not so complex that they preclude a jury trial. The court declines to find, however, that defendant has a right to a jury trial on all the claims against it. The court holds that the United States, in its claims under §107(a) of CERCLA for recovery of the costs of testing and monitoring the waste site, seeks an equitable remedy in restitution. The United States' request for an order enjoining defendant from further disposal of waste and directing defendant to finance and monitoring and maintenance of the site is also equitable. The court rules that the claims against the defendant based on strict liability for abnormally dangerous activity and negligence are legal. To avoid the possibility that collateral estoppel could bar defendant from a jury trial on the legal claims if the court first renders an opinion on the equitable claims, the court will conduct a single proceeding of all claims, with the jury deciding the legal claims and the court deciding the equitable claims. Finally, the court grants defendant's motion to amend its answer to add a statute of limitations defense and to correct certain errors.

[A related decision is reported at 12 ELR 20954 — Ed.]

Counsel for Plaintiff
David Bruce Hird
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-5466

Robert Leininger
Office of the General Counsel
Environmental Protection Agency, Washington DC 20460
(202) 382-4134

Counsel for Plaintiffs-Intervenors
Stephen A. Shakman, Dennis Coyne, Special Ass't Attorneys General
102 State Capitol, St. Paul MN 55155
(612) 296-2591

Joseph C. Vesely
Vesely & Miller
203 NW Nat'l Bank Bldg., Hopkins MN 55343
(612) 938-7635

Wayne G. Popham
Popham, Haik, Schnobrich, Kaufman & Doty, Ltd.
4344 IDS Ctr., Minneapolis MN 55402
(612) 333-4800

Counsel for Defendant
Edward J. Schwartzbauer
Dorsey & Whitney
2200 First Bank Place E., Minneapolis MN 55402
(612) 340-2600