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Wilshire Westwood Associates v. Atlantic Richfield Corporation

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
881 F.2d 801 (9th Cir. 1989)


Facts

Wilshire Westwood Associates (plaintiff) and Platt Development Company (plaintiff) brought suit against Atlantic Richfield Corporation (ARCO) and others (defendants) under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), 42 U.S.C. § 9601. The plaintiffs claimed that gasoline containing hazardous substances (benzene, toluene, xylene, ethyl-benzene, and lead) had leaked from the defendants’ storage tanks into soil. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss the complaint based on CERCLA’s petroleum exception. The exception provided that “petroleum, including crude oil or any fraction thereof which is not otherwise specifically listed or designated a hazardous substance” was excluded from CERCLA’s definition of hazardous substance. The district court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss. The plaintiffs appealed, arguing that the phrase “which is not otherwise specifically listed” modified the words “petroleum” and “crude oil.”

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Coyle, J.)

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