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Village of Stillwater v. General Electric Co.

ELR Citation: 40 ELR 20003
Nos. No. 9-CV-228, (N.D.N.Y. , 10/13/2010)

A district court denied an electric company's motion to bifurcate litigation in a case brought by several towns against the company under CERCLA and New York statutory and common law for polluting their water supply. The company's motion was for reverse bifurcation, as it wanted to first hold discovery and trial on the issue of damages before proceeding to liability. But reverse bifurcation is not supported for multiple reasons. Issues of liability, damages, and causation are inextricably intertwined in significant respects. Moreover, with the company proposing to proceed with damages before liability, evidence of causation will necessarily be relevant in both trials and thus lead to an overlap of issues. In addition, reverse bifurcation would increase the time and expense of the litigation rather than decreasing them, would decrease rather than increase judicial efficiency and expense, and would severely and unfairly prejudice plaintiffs.