Fred Blum and Erin Poppler successfully litigated a United States District Court case to verdict. This was a complex environmental dispute under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (“CERCLA”) involving allocation of liability for PCE contamination between Plaintiff, the current owner and operator of an industrial laundry facility, and Defendant, the former owner and operator of an industrial dry cleaner at the site.
Plaintiff sought to recover 100% of its multi-million dollar costs related to the PCE contamination at the site, asserting that all the contamination pre-dated its ownership and was exclusively the result of defendant’s PCE dry cleaning operations. After a four-week federal bench trial, which involved highly technical expert opinion and scientific evidence, the District Court was persuaded to reject Plaintiff’s theory.
The Court adopted Defendant’s position that Plaintiff’s industrial laundry activities were equally responsible for the PCE contamination because wastewater discharged by Plaintiff contained PCE and other solvents, which added to the contamination and mobilized pre-existing PCE in the soil which then migrated to the groundwater. Accordingly, the court allocated responsibility for the millions of dollars in environmental costs 50-50; effectively reducing by half the CERCLA judgment Plaintiff sought to recover.