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United States v. Capital Tax Corp.

ELR Citation: 37 ELR 20208
Nos. No. 04 C 4138, (N.D. Ill., 08/01/2007) damages

A district court held that the owner and the operator of a hazardous waste site in Chicago, Illinois, are jointly and severally liable to the U.S. government for $2,681,337.79 in damages. The government put forth evidence that it incurred $2,543,748.92 in response costs, and neither defendant argued that the response costs were inconsistent with the national contingency plan. Consequently, the government is entitled to $2,543,748.92 in response costs plus $137,588.87 in statutory prejudgment interest, for a total of $2,681,337.79. In addition, the defendants are jointly and severally liable. Although the owner only owned some of the parcels at the site, it failed to establish that the harm was geographically divisible. The undisputed evidence is that the contamination was not separate and that hazardous wastes migrated or otherwise moved from one area to another within the site. The United States also sought civil fines against the owner and operator for violating administrative orders to clean up the site. Because neither party had a good-faith reason to think it was not liable, the court ordered the owner to pay $230,250 and the operator to pay $220,500 in civil fines. The court also ordered the operator to pay $23,100 in civil penalties for failing to comply with the government's requests for information.

[A prior decision in this litigation can be found at 37 ELR 20015.]