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Lone Star Indus. v. Horman Family Trust

ELR Citation: 22 ELR 21316
Nos. No. 90-4159, 960 F.2d 917/(10th Cir., 04/07/1992)

The court holds that the district court improperly dismissed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) a potentially responsible party's (PRP's) amended complaint in a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) §113(f) contribution action, because the amended complaint alleged sufficient equitable factors to withstand such a motion. The corporate PRP's amended complaint sought contribution for response costs incurred in cleaning up fill materials contaminated with hazardous waste that the corporate PRP deposited at no cost on defendants' properties. The evidence shows that none of the parties were aware that the fill material contained hazardous waste, that the defendants permitted the dumping on their properties, and that the defendants believed that the fill would enhance the value of their properties. The court holds that the amended complaint sufficiently alleged that it would be inequitable for the corporate PRP to bear all of the cost of responding to the threatened release of hazardous substances from properties owned by the defendants, because the circumstances surrounding the placing of the fill on the defendants' properties required an equitable accounting of liability. The fact that the parties did not necessarily have actual knowledge of the hazardous nature of the fill material, or that the parties had not expressly agreed to be held harmless from future liability, is not sufficient to support dismissal of a CERCLA contribution claim on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. The complaint adequately alleged equitable factors warranting contribution sufficient to give notice to all parties the equitable nature of the corporate PRP's action.

Counsel for Plaintiff-Appellant
James B. Lee, David W. Tundermann
Parsons, Behle & Latimer
185 S. State St., P.O. Box 11898, Ste. 700, Salt Lake City UT 84147
(801) 532-1234

Counsel for Defendants-Appellees
Joann Shields
Campbell, Maack & Sessions
170 S. Main St., Ste. 400, Salt Lake City UT 84101
(801) 537-5555

Before HOLLOWAY, TACHA, and McWILLIAMS, Circuit Judges.