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Spears v. Chrysler

ELR Citation: 41 ELR 20098
Nos. No. 3:08CV331, (S.D. Ohio, 02/08/2011)

A district court held that residents' state law tort claims against the former owners of an industrial site should not be dismissed under the "primary jurisdiction" doctrine. The residents filed suit against the former owners for allegedly contaminating their property and persons with toxic, carcinogenic, and otherwise "ultra hazardous" chemicals. Given EPA's involvement at the site, the owners argued that the case should be dismissed under the doctrine of primary jurisdiction. But while EPA undoubtedly has expertise in at least some of the technical and factual issues in this case, the companies failed to provide sufficient information about EPA's investigation and remediation efforts to warrant a dismissal or stay at this early stage of the litigation under the primary jurisdiction doctrine. Moreover, the residents' claims for monetary damages fall within the province of the courts rather than EPA. Nevertheless, the court dismissed the residents' claims for medical monitoring, civil conspiracy, and punitive damages for failure to state a claim.