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United States v. Consolidation Coal Co.

ELR Citation: 34 ELR 20001
Nos. No. 02-3308, (6th Cir., 09/26/2003) aff'd in part, rev'd in part

The court affirms a district court decision finding a chemical company liable in connection with the Buckeye Reclamation Landfill in Buckeye, Ohio, and determining its equitable share of past and future response costs for cleanup of the landfill to be 6%, but reverses and remands the district court's calculation of prejudgment interest under §107(a) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). The district court did not abuse its discretion in finding the company liable. The company met all four elements of liability. Nor did the district court abuse its discretion in equitably allocating the response costs. The district court has broad discretion in making CERCLA contribution allocations, and the company failed to show that the court committed clear error. The company simply disagreed with the particular equitable factors the district court used and how the court applied them. The district court, however, erred in calculating the amount of prejudgment interest the chemical company owed. CERCLA requires that interest be calculated from the later of two dates: the date on which the chemical company’s payment of a specific amount was demanded in writing or the date on which the expenditure occurred. Here the district court made its calculation based solely on when the expenditure occurred. Because the district court failed to determine when a written demand for a specified sum was made, the statutory prerequisites to prejudgment interest were not met. Thus, the calculation of prejudgment interest cannot be sustained in the absence of a further determination under CERCLA §107(a).

[A prior decision in this litigation is digested at 32 ELR 20476.]

Counsel for Appellant
Neil G. Epstein
Eckert, Seamans, Cherin & Mellott
1515 Market St., Philadelphia PA 19102
(215) 851-8400

Counsel for Appellees
Daniel M. Darragh
Buchanan Ingersoll
301 Grant St., 20th Fl., Pittsburgh PA 15219
(412) 562-8800