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United States v. Chem-Dyne Corp.
United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio
572 F. Supp. 802 (1983)
Chem-Dyne Corp. (defendant) operated a facility that disposed of chemical waste from a large number of sources. When the company stopped operating, hazardous waste was left behind, contaminating the site and groundwater. Records showed a number of companies that had sent waste to the facility, but much of the waste was commingled, and the sources were not tracked over time. Additionally, it was unclear which specific types of waste had contaminated the groundwater. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) listed the site on the National Priorities List pursuant to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). The United States (plaintiff), on behalf of the EPA, sued Chem-Dyne and 23 other parties (the entities) (defendants) that had disposed of waste at the facility. The United States claimed the entities were jointly and severally liable for cleanup under CERCLA. According to legislative history, early drafts of CERCLA included a joint-and-several-liability provision that was removed before the bill was passed. Additionally, according to statements by congressmen from both houses, by removing the provision Congress intended not to statutorily mandate joint and several liabilities, but rather to allow the issue to be “governed by traditional and evolving principles of common law.” The entities filed a motion for partial summary judgment, in which they requested that the court make an early determination on the issue of joint and several liability.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Rubin, C.J.)
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