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Cyprus Amax Minerals Co. v. TCI Pacific Communications, Inc.

ELR Citation: 45 ELR 20033
Nos. 11-CV-0252, (N.D. Okla., 02/02/2015) (Eagan, J.)

A district court held that a corporation may be held liable under CERCLA for contamination stemming from smelting operations in the early 1900s by a subsidiary of the corporation's predecessor. Considering the totality of the circumstances, the smelting company was the alter ego of the corporation's predecessor. The predecessor held itself out as the owner of the smelter's stock and the evidence shows that individuals closely connected with the predecessor company nominally owned the smelter's stock. The predecessor's officers and directors held the same positions with the smelter, and the predecessor represented that it controlled the operations of all of its subsidiaries, including the smelting company. Significantly, the predecessor company testified at a 1923 Interstate Commerce Commission hearing that it controlled or dominated the operations of the smelting company. It would therefore be a fraud or injustice to now permit the successor corporation to take a contrary position for the purpose of avoiding CERCLA liability. Accordingly, the plaintiff company may be able to recover contribution from the successor corporation under a theory of indirect liability under CERCLA.