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Valbruna Slater Steel Corp. v. Joslyn Manufacturing Co.

ELR Citation: 45 ELR 20238
Nos. 1:10-cv-044, (N.D. Ind., 12/04/2015) (DeGuilio)

A district court held that the prior owner of a contaminated site is jointly and severally liable for the current owner's response costs under CERCLA §107(a). The prior owner argued that the current owner has not incurred costs that are necessary or consistent with the NCP. But there is ample uncontested evidence that the current owner has spent at least some amount of money to eliminate contamination that posed a threat to public health. As such, the costs were necessary. In addition, the state agency's involvement in the cleanup was sufficiently substantial to satisfy the NCP's public participation requirement. The expenses were therefore consistent with the NCP. Because the current owner has shown that it incurred some necessary costs consistent with the NCP—the only part of its prima facie case in dispute—it succeeded in establishing the prior owner's liability under §107(a). But given the complexity of this case and the prior owner's pending counterclaim, the court deferred on deciding what those costs are. Similarly, the current owner is entitled to recover its future costs from the prior owner, but only to the extent those costs are not offset under the counterclaim.