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State v. B.B.& S. Treated Lumber Corp.

September 30, 2007

STATE OF NEW YORK AND ERIN M. CROTTY, AS TRUSTEE OF NATURAL RESOURCES, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
B.B.& S. TREATED LUMBER CORP., B.B.& S. HOLDING CORP., THOMAS SAMUELS, GEORGE GUILLOZ, AND VINCENT MAUCERI, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joanna Seybert, U.S.D.J.

MEMORANDUM AND DECISION

INTRODUCTION

Pending before the Court are the parties' submitted findings of fact and conclusions of law. For the reasons below, the Court finds the Defendants' version of the facts more credible and persuasive. Accordingly, the Clerk of the Court shall enter judgment accordingly.

BACKGROUND

The Court presided over a five-day bench trial on February 12-16, 2007. All parties presented witnesses and exhibits. The parties stipulated to a number of facts in their Joint Pre-Trial Order, filed December 14, 2006, and approved by the Magistrate on December 20, 2006 ("JPTO"). For the basic background facts, the Court refers the parties to the stipulated facts contained in the JPTO. Thus, the only issue before the Court was whether Defendants Thomas Samuels ("Samuels"), George Guilloz ("Guilloz"), and Vincent Mauceri ("Mauceri") (collectively, the "Defendants") were operators subject to liability under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 ("CERCLA").

I. Summary Judgment Order

On March 16, 2006, this Court granted in part and denied in part the parties' motions for summary judgment ("Summary Judgment Order"). In the Summary Judgment Order, the Court granted in its entirety Plaintiffs' motion against B.B.& S. Treated Lumber Corp. and B.B.& S. Holding Corp. ("BB&S"). The Court denied in their entirety the Defendants' motions for summary judgment. As for Plaintiffs' motion against the individual Defendants, the Court granted Plaintiffs' motion on the second through fifth elements of their CERCLA claim. But the first element - whether the Defendants were operators under CERCLA - was an issue of fact that ultimately became the basis for the bench trial.

II. Applicable Law

Congress enacted CERCLA to ensure that the parties "responsible for any damage, environmental harm, or injury from chemical poisons bear the costs of their actions." Prisco v. A&D Carting Corp., 168 F.3d 593, 602 (2d Cir. 1999) (citations omitted). Section 107 of CERCLA "provides a private right of action for the recovery of . . . costs" incurred for "responding to the release or threatened release of 'hazardous substances,'" as defined in CERCLA. Id. (citations omitted); see 42 U.S.C. § 9607. The quantity of the hazardous substance does not matter. Rather, a plaintiff must establish five elements to make out a prima facie case under § 107. See id. A plaintiff must prove the following:

(1) [T]he defendant falls within one of the four categories of potentially responsible parties set forth in § 107 . . . .

(2) The facility is indeed a "facility" as defined by § 101(9) of CERCLA . . . .

(3) [T]here is a release or a threatened release of hazardous substances at the facility. . . .

(4) [T]he plaintiff incurred costs in responding to the release or threatened ...


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