May 10, 2019

In Brief

John R. Jacus

CERCLA

Mission Linen Supply v. City of Visalia, No. 1:15-CV-0672 AWI EPG, 2019 WL 446358, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18567 (E.D. Cal. Feb. 5, 2019). 
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California has held a current dry-cleaning service owner and the City of Visalia equally liable for solvent contamination from historic operations and the significant leakage of solvent-containing wastewaters from the municipal sewer system serving the business. The court considered many factors in making the allocation, but focused most heavily on the significant cooperation of the current owner, Mission Linen Supply, with regulators in addressing the contamination, as well as the very poor condition of the sewer system and its lack of maintenance in contributing to the contamination. The city’s attempt to raise CERCLA’s third-party defense was rejected because the city could not establish that other parties (Mission and a defunct prior owner) were the sole cause of the releases into the environment of hazardous substances, due to the condition of the city’s sewer system. The prior owner’s orphan share was split and allocated equally to Mission and the city.  

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