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Pierson Sand & Gravel, Inc. v. Keeler Brass Co.

ELR Citation: 29 ELR 21374
Nos. Nos. 108729, 108730, 598 N.W. 2d 336/48 ERC 2097/(Mich., 07/08/1999)

The court holds that the doctrine of res judicata does not bar a state court from presiding over landfill owners' state-law claims for response costs from potentially responsible parties even though the owners already sought relief under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) in federal court. The landowners did not bring their state claims before the federal court where their CERCLA claims were dismissed before trial. The court first holds that where a federal district court dismisses all plaintiff's federal claims in advance of trial, and there are no exceptional circumstances that would give the federal court grounds to retain supplemental jurisdiction over the state claim, then it is clear that the federal court would not have exercised its supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state-law claims. The goal of res judicata is to promote fairness, not lighten the loads of the state court by precluding suits whenever possible. The court next holds that res judicata will not act to bar the landowners' claim. There are no exceptional circumstances in the instant case that would compel the federal court to retain jurisdiction over the state claims.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Thomas J. Fayfer
Fausone, Taylor & Bohn
41820 W. Six Mile Rd., Ste. 103, Northville MI 48167
(248) 380-0000

Counsel for Defendant
Michael F. Kelly
Rader, Fishman, Grauer & McGarry
171 Monroe Ave. NW, Ste. 600, Grand Rapids MI 49503
(616) 742-3500

Before Brickley, Cavanaugh, Kelly, and Corrigan, JJ., with Taylor, J., dissenting.