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United States v. Davis

United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

August 17, 2001, Decided

No. 00-1234, 00-1342, 00-1343, 00-1344, 00-1345, 00-1399, 00-1400, 00-1401, 00-1402, 00-1403, 00-1404

Opinion

 [*14]  Table of Contents

Background

The Consent Decrees

Background

1. Consent Decree I

2. Consent Decrees II, III, IV, and Capuano

3. The District Court Approval

Reviewing the Approval of the Consent Decree

1. Standard of Review

2. Case or Controversy

3. Fairness

 a. Procedural   

 b. Substantive   

4. Reasonableness

5. Statutory Fidelity

6. Unconstitutional Taking

The Declaratory Judgment

Background on CERCLA Contribution Actions

The District Court's Declaratory Judgment Ruling

The Parties' Challenges to the Declaratory Judgment

1. Proof that the Defendants Disposed of Hazardous Waste

 a. Ashland   

 b. Acco-Bristol   

 c. Black & Decker a/k/a Gar    

 d. Perkin-Elmer   

2. Wilbert Jones's Testimony

 a. Grounds for Exclusion   

 b. Grounds for Disbelieving   

3. Exclusion of Master Chart

 a. Procedural Posture   

 b. Admissibility of the Chart   

4. Proof that Defendants' Waste Caused or Contributed to

 Cleanup Costs  

5. The Entry of a Declaratory Judgment under 42 U.S.C. §

 9613 (g)(2) and the Declaratory Judgment Act  

6. Morton's Liability

 a. Claims of Clearly Erroneous Factual Findings   

 b. Claims of Legal Error   

7. Successor-in-Interest Liability for Gar

8. UTC's Appeal

 a. The Judgment in Favor of Macera   

 i. Transporter Liability   

 ii. Arranger Liability  

 b. The Judgment in Favor of the City of New Jersey   

 c. The Government's $ 6 Million Enforcement Costs   

Conclusion

 [**3]  Appendix I A Roster of Parties, Principals, and Witnesses

Appendix II A Summary of Relevant Monetary Sums

LIPEZ, Circuit   [**4]    Judge. This appeal concerns the third phase of litigation under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), 42 U.S.C. § 9601 et seq., stemming from the disposal of hundreds of thousands of gallons of hazardous waste in the late 1970s at a site in Smithfield, Rhode Island owned by William and Eleanor Davis. This phase concerns an action by United Technologies Corporation (UTC) under CERCLA's contribution provision, 42 U.S.C. § 9613(f). In 1995, UTC was found jointly and severally liable for costs incurred by the United States for the cleanup of the Davis site. Hoping to relieve itself of some of the burden of that judgment, UTC sued several dozen other potentially responsible parties. Most of these parties, as well as  [*15]  UTC, signed partial consent decrees with the United States in which they agreed to pay a share of the cleanup costs. Several parties, however, did not settle, and in 1998 UTC took them to trial. One of the non-settlors, Ashland, Inc., appeals the district court's entry of the partial consent decrees. Ashland and four other non-settlors also appeal the court's entry following trial [**5]  of a declaratory judgment holding them liable for disposing of hazardous waste at the Davis site and allocating to them shares of responsibility for cleanup costs. Finally, UTC appeals three aspects of the court's ruling.

We affirm, with one exception -- a remand for clarification of the district court's ruling that UTC may be solely responsible for $ 6 million in government enforcement costs.

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261 F.3d 1 *; 2001 U.S. App. LEXIS 18562 **; 57 Fed. R. Evid. Serv. (Callaghan) 748; 32 ELR 20048; 53 ERC (BNA) 1097

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff, Appellee, v. WILLIAM M. DAVIS, et al., Defendant, Appellee. ASHLAND, INC., et al., Appellant.

Subsequent History:  [**1]  Counsel Amended September 18, 2001.

Prior History: APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF RHODE ISLAND. Hon. Ernest C. Torres, U.S. District Judge.

Disposition: Affirmed the determinations of the district court, with the exception of that concerning the issue of whether UTC is solely responsible for $ 6 million in government enforcement costs. Remanded for a clarification of the district court's position.

CORE TERMS

site, district court, consent decree, drums, costs, parties, settlement, disposal, transporter, dumped, remediation, cleanup costs, soil, hazardous waste, cleanup, response costs, settling, argues, picked, allocate, chart, declaratory judgment, Phase, driver, collected, Chemical, non-settling, deliveries, Landfill, partial

Environmental Law, Hazardous Wastes & Toxic Substances, Cleanup, Enforcement, Cost Recovery Actions, Strict Liability, Defenses, General Overview, Contribution Actions, CERCLA & Superfund, Potentially Responsible Parties, Civil Procedure, Judgments, Entry of Judgments, Consent Decrees, Administrative Proceedings & Litigation, Consent Judgments, Appeals, Standards of Review, Abuse of Discretion, Judicial Review, Constitutional Law, The Judiciary, Case or Controversy, Justiciability, Case & Controversy Requirements, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Jurisdiction Over Actions, Settlements, Settlement Agreements, Torts, Comparative Fault, Multiple Parties, Release & Settlement, Generators, Transporters, Cleanup Costs, Settlements, Real Property Law, Environmental Regulations, Liabilities & Risks, Contractual Relationships, Reviewability of Lower Court Decisions, Elements, Arrangers, Operators & Owners, Business & Corporate Compliance, Transportation Law, Carrier Duties & Liabilities, Hazardous Materials, National Contingency Plan, Cleanup Standards, Transportation, Trials, Bench Trials, Clearly Erroneous Review, Evidence, Admissibility, Conduct Evidence, Habit & Routine Practices, Responses, Defenses, Demurrers & Objections, Defects of Form, Pleadings, Amendment of Pleadings, Relation Back, Service of Process, Criminal Law & Procedure, Abuse of Discretion, Evidence, Testimony, Competency, Procedural Matters, Rulings on Evidence, Witnesses, Search & Seizure, Exclusionary Rule, Witnesses, Presentation, Inferences & Presumptions, Examination, Demonstrative Evidence, Preservation for Review, Objections & Offers of Proof, Hearsay, Rule Components, Statements, Statements as Evidence, Exemptions, Statements by Party Opponents, Vicarious Statements, Administrative Law, Evidence, Admissibility of Evidence, Hearsay, Exceptions, Declaratory Judgments, De Novo Review, Federal & State Interrelationships, Choice of Law, Mergers & Acquisitions Law, Sales of Assets, Liabilities & Rights of Successors, Mere Continuation, Successor Liability Doctrine, Preliminary Considerations, Erie Doctrine, Vicarious Liability, Corporations, Inferences, Governments, Courts, Court Records, Conforming Pleadings to Evidence, Local Governments, Claims By & Against, Federal Versus State Law, Sovereign Immunity, Legislation, Interpretation