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Axel Johnson, Inc. v. Carroll Carolina Oil Co.

ELR Citation: 28 ELR 21256
Nos. 97-1629, 145 F.3d 660/(4th Cir., 06/04/1998)

The court holds that a district court lacked jurisdiction to hear a former Superfund site operator's four state-law claims against the site's owner. After entering a consent decree with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the site operator brought a six-count complaint against the site owner. Two of the counts sought to hold the site owner liable for the site operator's Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) response costs. The four state-law counts sought damages and recission based on the site owner's fraudulent manipulation of a foreclosure sale through which the site owner obtained the CERCLA property. The court first holds that neither CERCLA §113(b) nor 28 U.S.C. §1331 extend federal jurisdiction to state-law claims. The court next holds that the site operator's submissions to the district court clearly establish that the site operator's four state-law claims were not within the district court's supplemental jurisdiction. The state-law counts and the CERCLA counts neither derive from a common nucleus of operative fact, nor are so closely related that the site operator would ordinarily be expected to try them all in one judicial proceeding. The court also holds that the site operator not only failed to plead diversity jurisdiction, but that it had also failed to plead facts from which the existence of such jurisdiction could properly be inferred.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Kenneth Berlin Sr.
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom
1440 New York Ave. NW, Washington DC 20005
(202) 371-7000

Counsel for Defendants
Matthew P. McGuire
Hunton & Williams
One Hannover Sq., 14th Fl., Raleigh NC 27602
(919) 899-3000

Before Wilkins and Motz, JJ.