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Florida Power & Light Co. v. Allis-Chalmers Corp.

ELR Citation: 18 ELR 20998
Nos. No. 86-1571-Civ-Atkins, 27 ERC 1558/(S.D. Fla., 03/22/1988)

The court rules that sale of a product containing a hazardous contaminant does not automatically subject the seller to liability under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). A utility that was held liable under CERCLA in connection with the disposal of electrical transformers contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) sued for contribution from the manufacturer that sold it the transformers. The court holds that the manufacturer is not liable, since it was not involved in and had no control over the disposal of the waste. Whether the utility intended to "dispose" of the PCBs within the meaning of CERCLA is irrelevant, since as the owner of the waste it is strictly liable. The manufacturer did not "arrange for disposal" of the PCBs by allowing the utility to use and ultimately dispose of the transformers, since it sold the utility new, useful products and the utility eventually made the decision to dispose. The manufacturer's knowledge as to the likelihood that the transformer would eventually need repair or disposal is also irrelevant to determining CERCLA liability.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Norman A. Coll
Coll, Davidson, Carter, Smith, Salter & Barrett, P.A.
3200 Miami Center
100 Chopin Plaza, Miami FL 33131
(305) 373-5200

Counsel for Defendants
David F. McIntosh
Corlett, Killian, Hardeman, McIntosh & Levi
116 W. Flagler St., Miami FL 33130
(305) 377-8931