SACRAMENTO, Calif., July 29, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Attorneys from the Houston and Sacramento offices of Hicks Thomas LLP won an important ruling this week at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit after the court issued its opinion giving a narrow construction to "arranger" liability under the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).
In Team Enterprises, LLC v. Western Investment Real Estate Trust (No. 10-16916), a Modesto, Calif.-based dry cleaning operator sued Naperville, Ill.-based R.R. Street & Co. Inc. under CERCLA and California common law.
Team Enterprises used equipment manufactured by R.R. Street to filter and recycle perchloroethylene (PERC), a chemical widely used in the U.S. dry cleaning industry. Team Enterprises claimed that R.R. Street and others in the industry designed equipment to improperly dispose of waste, which allegedly contaminated soil and groundwater.
U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O'Neill granted Hick Thomas' motion for summary judgment and dismissed all claims against R.R. Street. Judge O'Neill found that R.R. Street sold a useful product, and that Team Enterprises failed to present evidence that R.R. Street intended to dispose of hazardous waste.
In the ruling issued July 26, 2011, the Ninth Circuit issued its first CERCLA arranger liability decision since being reversed by the United States Supreme Court in the landmark Burlington Northern decision. In Team Enterprises, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the trial court's finding that a company selling a product that uses or generates a hazardous substance as part of its operation cannot be held liable as an arranger under CERCLA unless the plaintiff proves the defendant company sold the product with the specific purpose of disposing of a hazardous substance.
"We are very pleased with the court's ruling," says Mr. Grant. "We believe that the standard articulated by the Ninth Circuit is fully consistent with Burlington Northern and should give guidance to trial courts that are hearing similar claims."
Founded in 1997, Hicks Thomas LLP is a premier litigation firm representing plaintiffs and defendants across the nation. With offices in Houston and Sacramento, the firm provides in-depth experience in cases involving oil and gas, environmental, toxic tort, products liability, corporate governance, securities, banking, insurance coverage, transportation, trade secrets and business litigation.
CONTACT: Alan Bentrup at 800-559-4534 or [email protected].
SOURCE Hicks Thomas LLP