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Bello v. Barden Corp.

ELR Citation: 32 ELR 20400
Nos. CIV. 301CV01531AWT, 180 F. Supp. 2d 300/(D. Conn., 01/02/2002)

The court grants a lessee's motion to dismiss a property owners' claims for costs incurred during the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) environmental cleanup of the owners' property, but also grants the owners' motion for leave to amend the complaint to include a claim for recovery of water usage fees. The court first holds that because the owners are potentially responsible parties, they may not bring a claim under §107 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). They may only bring an action under CERCLA §113. Nevertheless, the court next dismisses the owners' contribution claims under CERCLA §113. Private parties may not recover under CERCLA for property damage or economic losses suffered due to the release of hazardous substances, and the owners' claims for past and future response costs were related to property damage and economic losses. In addition, the owners failed to allege that their investigative costs were consistent with the national contingency plan. The court holds, however, that the owners may amend the complaint to add a contribution claim for water usage fees paid by them during EPA's cleanup. The water usage was a necessary part of EPA's response action. Lastly, the court dismisses the owners' state-law claim for intentional and reckless conduct. The claim is barred by the statute of limitations, and the owners failed to allege that the lessee's actions were highly unreasonable.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Ikechukwu Umeugo
Umeugo & Associates
840 Orange Ave., W. Haven CT 06516
(203) 931-2680

Counsel for Defendant
Joseph Wellington
Carmody & Torrance
50 Leavenworth St., Waterbury CT 06702
(203) 573-1200

Thompson, J.