Monday, January 6, 2014

United States v. Monstanto Co. case brief

United States v. Monstanto Co. case brief summary
858 F.2d 160 (1988)

CASE SYNOPSIS
Defendants, site owners and waste generators, appealed an order of the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, which awarded plaintiffs, the United States and the State of South Carolina, summary judgment in an action alleging defendants' liability for hazardous waste response costs incurred by plaintiffs under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980, 42 U.S.C.S. § 9607(a).

CASE FACTS
Defendants, site owners and waste generators, appealed a summary judgment in favor of plaintiffs, the United States and the State of South Carolina, in an action under § 107(a) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), 42 U.S.C.S. § 9607(a), for response costs incurred by plaintiffs in removing hazardous waste from a disposal site.

DISCUSSION
  • On appeal, the court rejected defendant owners' "innocent landowner" defense and absence-of-causation argument, in light of CERCLA's strict liability provision and the fact that no precautionary steps were taken to prevent contamination. 
  • Rejecting defendant generators' assertion that liability required a finding that their specific waste contributed to the harm, the court noted that the statute had no causation requirement requiring plaintiffs to "fingerprint" wastes.
  • Because no valid basis for allocating damages was shown, joint and several liability was appropriate. 
  • The judgment of the district court as to CERCLA liability of defendant site owners and generators was affirmed. 
  • The case was remanded, however, for reconsideration of the question of prejudgment interest.

CONCLUSION
The court affirmed in part the judgment as to the liability of defendants, site-owners and generators. The court vacated the judgment in part and the case was remanded for reconsideration of the question of prejudgment interest.

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