United States District Court, N.D. New York
R.M. BACON, LLC, et al., Plaintiffs,
SAINT-GOBAIN PERFORMANCE PLASTICS CORP., et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER
LAWRENCE E. KAHN U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
case, the Court is asked to consider the viability of an
action stemming from the contamination of groundwater with
perfluorooctanoic acid (“PFOA”) in the Village of
Hoosick Falls, New York. Dkt. No. 24 (“Amended
Complaint”) ¶¶ 1-6. In the Amended Complaint,
plaintiffs R.M. Bacon, LLC (“RM”) and Michael
Bacon allege that defendants Saint-Gobain Performance
Plastics Corp. and Honeywell International Inc. contaminated
the Village's groundwater by discharging PFOA from one or
more manufacturing facilities they operated within the
Village. E.g., id. As a result of this
contamination, Plaintiffs allege that property values
“experienced a significant decline, ”
id. ¶ 66, which “caused the collapse of
[RM's] 30-year old local business, ” id.
¶ 1, and diminished the value of Bacon's property,
id. ¶ 169. Presently before the Court is
Defendants' motion to dismiss the Amended Complaint for
failure to state a claim. Dkt. Nos. 26
(“Motion”), 26-2 (“Memorandum”). For
the reasons that follow, the Motion is granted in part and
denied in part.
following facts are taken from the allegations in the Amended
Complaint, which are assumed to be true when deciding a
motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Bryant v.
N.Y. State Educ. Dep't, 692 F.3d 202, 210 (2d Cir.
a man-made chemical used, among other things, “to make
fabrics water and stain resistant.” Am. Compl.
¶¶ 19, 24. Originally manufactured by the 3M
Company, PFOA was also “a key component in the
manufacturing of Teflon.” Id. ¶¶ 20,
23. According to Plaintiffs, “PFOA has been identified
as an emerging contaminant of concern, ” id.
¶ 26, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
(“EPA”) has “noted that peer-reviewed
studies indicate that ‘exposure to PFOA over certain
levels may result in adverse health effects, '”
id. ¶ 30. “PFOA has the potential to be
more of a health concern because it can stay in the
environment and in the human body for long periods of
time.” Id. ¶ 27.
York State has identified a small factory at 14 McCaffrey
Street as the primary source of Hoosick Falls's PFOA
contamination. Id. ¶ 31. The McCaffrey Street
facility began operating in approximately 1955. Id.
¶ 33. AlliedSignal, which later merged with Honeywell,
id. ¶ 14, acquired the facility in 1986,
id. ¶ 34. In 1997, Honeywell sold the facility
to a company called Furon, which sold it to Saint-Gobain in
1999. Id. ¶ 35. Saint-Gobain owns the facility
to this day. Id.
utilized PFOA to manufacture stain resistant fabrics and
other products at the McCaffrey Street facility. Id.
¶¶ 36-39. Plaintiffs allege that “Defendants
discharged PFOA into the environment through releases into
the atmosphere” and by “discharg[ing] wastewater
containing PFOA directly into . . . the soil.”
Id. ¶¶ 43, 45. Defendants further allege
that “[i]t is possible, if not probable, that
[D]efendants also followed waste disposal practices that
resulted in the discharge or burial of PFOA-ladened waste in
the municipal landfill and one or more other locations around
the community.” Id. ¶ 46. As a result of
Defendants' conduct, Plaintiffs allege, the Village's
groundwater contains PFOA levels that far exceed the
EPA's health advisory limit of 70 parts per trillion
(ppt). Id. ¶¶ 29, 50-52. Groundwater tests
at some sites have revealed average PFOA levels of 7, 686
ppt, and one test registered 130, 000 ppt. Id.
Village's municipal water supply provides drinking water
to nearly 95% of its approximately 3, 500 residents.
Id. ¶¶ 53-55. In November 2015, the EPA
recommended that Village residents no longer use the
municipal water supply for drinking and cooking due to the
high levels of PFOA. Id. ¶ 56. In late 2015,
Saint-Gobain began providing free bottled water to Village
residents, and agreed to fund the installation of a
filtration system on the municipal water system to remove
PFOA. Id. ¶ 58. In January 2016, New York
designated the McCaffrey Street facility a state Superfund
site. Id. ¶ 62.
area banks have indicated that they will not provide mortgage
financing for homes in Hoosick Falls, and at least one bank
official publically stated that his bank would not issue any
mortgages for any home connected to the municipal water
supply. Id. ¶ 63. As a result of the
contamination and the lack of available financing, property
values in Hoosick Falls have declined dramatically.
Id. ¶ 66. Plaintiffs further allege that
“the economic development of the Village has largely
ceased, ” id. ¶ 67, and “people are
reluctant to undertake property development, ”
id. ¶ 71.
formed RM in 1985. Id. ¶ 75. The company,
located in the neighboring town of Hoosick, id.
¶ 76, primarily provides “home construction and
home improvement” services, id. ¶ 79. It
also performs a variety of related construction and property
improvement services, including excavations, soil and fill
services, and roadway development. Id. ¶ 81. By
2015, RM was “the leading construction company in an
approximately 25-mile radius of Hoosick Falls” and
“essentially performed all excavation and roadway
development work for all new commercial construction in the
area between 2010 and 2015.” Id. ¶¶
discovery of PFOA contamination in Hoosick Falls had a
profound impact on RM's business. Id. ¶ 90.
The decline in property values, groundwater contamination,
and lack of available financing caused nearly all home
construction and improvement work to cease in 2016.
Id. ¶ 90-105. RM “had no construction or
excavation work scheduled at the start of July 2016, ”
id. ¶ 102, and “no new contracts for
2016, ” id. ¶ 105. Its shrinking payroll
reflects the economic downturn. From 2010 to 2016, RM had
seven employees. Id. ¶ 101. By June 2016, the
company had only one part-time and three full-time employees.
Id. By September 2016, Bacon was RM's sole
remaining employee, and he received no salary for his work.
Id. ¶ 107. The company “experienced a
substantial loss of revenue for the 2016 fiscal year.”
Id. ¶ 111. “Individuals have expressly
stated that the presence of PFOA in the environment prevents
them from hiring” RM. Id. ¶ 109.
owns the Hoosick property on which RM operates. Id.
¶ 112. He attempted to sell the property in 2016,
listing it at $100, 000 below its 2015 assessed value.
Id. ¶ 113. No. one has offered to purchase, or
even looked at, the property. Id. ¶ 114.
commenced this action on April 19, 2017. Dkt. No. 1
(“Complaint”). Defendants initially moved to
dismiss the Complaint on June 20, 2017. Dkt. No. 9
(“First Motion”). Following a joint stipulation
submitted on July 14, 2017, Dkt. No. 22
(“Stipulation”), the Court allowed RM to file an
amended complaint, adding Bacon as a plaintiff, Dkt. No. 23
(“Amendment Order”). Plaintiffs filed the Amended
Complaint on July 25, 2017, thus mooting the First Motion.
Amended Complaint, Plaintiffs allege claims for tortious
interference with business relations, negligence, and
negligence per se. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 117-85. Defendants
moved to dismiss the Amended Complaint for failure to state a
claim on August 3, 2017. Mot. Plaintiffs opposed the Motion,
Dkt. No. 28 (“Opposition”), and Defendants
submitted a reply, Dkt. No. 33 (“Reply”).
survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim
pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, a “complaint must contain sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A court
must accept as true the factual allegations contained in a
complaint and draw all inferences in favor of the plaintiff.
Allaire Corp. v. Okumus, 433 F.3d 248, 249-50 (2d
Cir. 2006). Plausibility, however, requires “enough
fact[s] to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will
reveal evidence of [the alleged misconduct].”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556.
plausibility standard “asks for more than a sheer
possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550
U.S. at 556). “[T]he pleading standard Rule 8 announces
does not require ‘detailed factual allegations, '
but it demands more than an unadorned,
Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
Where a court is unable to infer more than the mere
possibility of the alleged misconduct based on the pleaded
facts, the pleader has not demonstrated that she is entitled
to relief and the action is subject to dismissal.
Id. at 678-79.
allege five causes of action against Defendants: negligent
interference with prospective economic advantage, Am. Compl.
¶¶ 117-31, intentional interference with economic
relationship, id. ¶¶ 132-47, tortious
interference with business relationship, id.
¶¶ 148-56, negligence, id. ¶¶
157-70, and negligence per se, id. ¶¶
171-85.The first ...