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Corvello v. New England Gas Co., Inc.
United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island
460 F. Supp. 2d 314 (2006)
New England Gas Co., Inc. (defendant) owned land on which a power plant had generated toxic waste, and this toxic waste had been disposed of on neighboring property. The neighboring property was subsequently developed for residential use, and the toxic waste was discovered in the soil. A state environmental agency placed a moratorium on excavation of the contaminated area, precluding any construction. The Corvellos and three other plaintiffs (collectively, the owners) (plaintiffs) owned property in the contaminated area and filed complaints in state court raising several common-law claims for damages related to the loss of the property’s use and value, including negligence, strict liability, public and private nuisance, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and requests for punitive damages. The cases were removed to federal district court. New England Gas moved to dismiss these claims, arguing (1) the negligence claims were not available because the possibility of harm to a future owner was too remote to impose a duty; (2) the strict-liability claims failed to allege that the activities were ultrahazardous or abnormally hazardous; (3) the private-nuisance claims failed to allege that the nuisance resulted from activities on the defendant’s own property; (4) the public-nuisance claims failed to allege interference with a right common to the general public; (5) the emotional-distress claims failed to allege that the defendant’s actions were directed at the plaintiffs; and (6) the punitive-damage claims failed to allege malice, recklessness, or wickedness.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Torres, C.J.)
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