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Clark v. United States

Citation: 17 ELR 21178
No. No. C85-97TB, 660 F. Supp. 1164/(W.D. Wash., 04/20/1987)

The court holds that the federal government is liable to residents in the vicinity of McChord Air Force Base near Tacoma, Washington, for local groundwater contamination caused by the Air Force's negligent disposal of hazardous materials. The Air Force's actions do not fall within the discretionary function exception of the Federal Tort Claims Act because Air Force manuals mandate that the selection of landfill and burn pit sites be conducted with consideration of any possible effects on groundwater and in accordance with state law. The court next holds that the government breached its duty to plaintiffs not to dispose of hazardous waste in a manner that would contaminate area groundwater. Although plaintiffs failed to prove common law negligence, the government's violation of Washington statutes and Air Force regulations constituted negligence per se. Finally, the court holds that the government's negligence proximately caused plaintiffs to suffer loss of rental income, diminution of their property values, loss of the use and quiet enjoyment of their property, emotional distress and mental anguish, and the cost of plumbing repair.

[A related opinion appears at 16 ELR 20057.]

Counsel for Plaintiff
G. Lee Raaen, Ann Cross Eschenbach
Raaen & Dionne
6700 Columbia Ctr., Seattle WA 98104
(206) 682-9580

Counsel for Defendant
Robert N. Kelly
Civil Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 724-7742