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Litgo New Jersey, Inc. v. Martin

ELR Citation: 41 ELR 20068
Nos. No. 06-2891, (D.C. Cir., 01/07/2011)

A district court modified its equitable allocation of costs under §113 of CERCLA and the New Jersey Spill Act in connection with a site contaminated with TCE and other hazardous substances. The court originally allocated 65% of costs to the plaintiffs, 32% to the defendants, and 3% to the federal government. The defendants argued that the court overlooked the fact that they had done all they were legally able to do in order to have the hazardous substances removed from their property. The court agreed, finding that the defendants did in fact behave more reasonably than the original opinion suggested and that their share of costs should be adjusted slightly downward. Accordingly, the court's previous order was modified to reflect the following equitable allocation of costs: 70% to plaintiffs; 27% to the defendants; and 3% to the U.S. defendants. But in all other respects, the court's previous ruling was affirmed, including its ruling that the current owner of the site should be held liable as an operator. Although involvement solely in remedial activities is not sufficient to establish liability, CERCLA imposes strict liability on current owners of a facility—a well established principle.