261 F.3d 1 (1st Cir. 2001), 00-1234, United States v. Davis

Docket Nº:00-1234, 00-1342, 00-1343, 00-1344, 00-1345, 00-1399, 00-1400, 00-1401, 00-1402, 00-1403, 00-1404
Citation:261 F.3d 1
Party Name:UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff, Appellee, v. WILLIAM M. DAVIS, et al., Defendant, Appellee. ASHLAND, INC., et al., Appellant.
Case Date:August 17, 2001
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
 
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261 F.3d 1 (1st Cir. 2001)

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff, Appellee,

v.

WILLIAM M. DAVIS, et al., Defendant, Appellee.

ASHLAND, INC., et al., Appellant.

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

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

August 17, 2001

Heard April 5, 2001

Amended September 21, 2001

APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF RHODE ISLAND

[Hon. Ernest C. Torres, U.S. District Judge]

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Denis V. Brenan for appellant Ashland, with whom Neal J. McNamara and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP were on the brief; Gerald J. Petros for appellants Acco Bristol and Gar Electroforming Division, with whom Christopher R. Bush, Charles D. Blackman, and Hinckley, Allen & Snyder LLP were on the brief; Gregory L. Benik and Robin L. Main for appellants Morton International, Inc. and Perkin-Elmer Corporation, with whom Karen A. Mignone and McGovern Noel & Benik, Inc. were on the brief.

Robert E. Maher, attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, for appellee United States, with whom Joan M. Pepin, Susan M. Akers, Scott D. Bauer, attorneys, U.S. Department of Justice, and Lois J. Schiffer, Assistant Attorney General, were on the brief.

R. Bradford Fawley for appellee United Technologies Corporation, with whom Bruce C. Palmer, Robert A. Miller, and Downs Rachlin & Martin were on the brief; Alok Ahuja for appellees BFI Waste Systems of North America, Inc., Michael A. Macera, Robert A. Cece, and Macera Brothers Container Service, Inc., with whom Harold I. Kessler, Friedman & Kessler, William G. Beck, and Lathrop & Gage, L.C., were on the brief; Craig M. Scott for appellee City of New Jersey, with whom Duffy & Sweeney, LTD was on the brief; Mark T. Reynolds for appellee Electroformers, Inc., with whom Boyer, Reynolds & Demarco, LTD was on the brief.

Mark O. Denehy, Joseph Avanzato, and Adler Pollock & Sheehan P.C., on the brief for appellees BASF Corporation, CAN Holdings, Inc., Dorr-Oliver Incorporated; Englehard Corporation, Johnson & Johnson, Lucent Technologies, Inc., Mine Safety Appliances Company, Ortho Diagnostics Systems, Inc., Ortho Pharmaceutical Corporation, Permacel, Inc., Quantum, Inc., and Warner-Lambert Company.

Before Lipez, Circuit Judge, Zobel and Woodlock, District Judges.[*]

LIPEZ, Circuit Judge.

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Table of Contents I Background ................................................... 15 II The Consent Decrees .......................................... 19 A. Background ............................................... 19 1. Consent Decree I ...................................... 19 2. Consent Decrees II, III, IV, and Capuano .............. 20 3. The District Court Approval ........................... 20 B. Reviewing the Approval of the Consent Decree ............. 21 1. Standard of Review .................................... 21 2. Case or Controversy ................................... 21 3. Fairness .............................................. 23 a. Procedural ......................................... 23 b. Substantive ........................................ 24 4. Reasonableness ........................................ 25 5. Statutory Fidelity .................................... 26 6. Unconstitutional Taking ............................... 28 III The Declaratory Judgment ..................................... 28 A. Background on CERCLA Contribution Actions ................ 28 B. The District Court's Declaratory Judgment Ruling ......... 29 C. The Parties' Challenges to the Declaratory Judgment ...... 31 1. Proof that the Defendants Disposed of Hazardous Waste 31 a. Ashland ........................................... 31 b. Acco-Bristol ...................................... 34 c. Black & Decker a/k/a Gar .......................... 35 d. Perkin-Elmer ...................................... 36 2. Wilbert Jones's Testimony ............................ 37 a. Grounds for Exclusion ............................. 38 b. Grounds for Disbelieving .......................... 39 3. Exclusion of Master Chart ............................ 40 a. Procedural Posture ................................ 40 b. Admissibility of the Chart ........................ 41 4. Proof that Defendants' Waste Caused or Contributed to Cleanup Costs ...................................... 42 5. The Entry of a Declaratory Judgment under 42 U.S.C. § 9613(g)(2) and the Declaratory Judgment Act.. 45 6. Morton's Liability ................................... 49 a. Claims of Clearly Erroneous Factual Findings ...... 49 b. Claims of Legal Error ............................. 51 7. Successor-in-Interest Liability for Gar .............. 52 8. UTC's Appeal ......................................... 55 a. The Judgment in Favor of Macera ................... 55 i. Transporter Liability ......................... 55 ii. Arranger Liability ............................ 58 b. The Judgment in Favor of the City of New Jersey ... 60 c. The Government's $6 Million Enforcement Costs ..... 61 IV Conclusion .................................................... 63 Appendix I A Roster of Parties, Principals, and Witnesses ................ 63 Appendix II A Summary of Relevant Monetary Sums ........................... 64 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

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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 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.

I. Background

We describe the facts in the light most favorable to the judgment.1 During the 1970s, William Davis operated a waste disposal site on ten acres of land in Smithfield, Rhode Island.2 In 1982, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) placed the Davis site on its National Priorities List of hazardous waste sites. After undertaking a remediation investigation and completing a feasibility study, the EPA issued a Record of Decision in 1987 describing the cleanup work that it deemed necessary to mitigate the environmental damage caused by the hazardous waste disposal. As described by the EPA, the cleanup required the government to "(1) complete a water line to supply drinking water to areas where the drinking water wells already are contaminated and to areas where the contaminated groundwater plume threatens additional wells; (2) clean contaminated groundwater; and (3) excavate and clean contaminated soils that continue to contaminate the groundwater and other environmental media at the Site." The EPA estimated the cost of this work at about $3 million for the water line, $13 million for groundwater cleanup, and $14 million for soil remediation. The government began the work of constructing water lines to nearby residents, but took no action on the soil or groundwater cleanups. See United States v. Davis, 11 F.Supp.2d 183, 192 (D.R.I. 1998) (Davis II).

In 1990, the United States brought an action under 42 U.S.C. § 9607 for recovery of past and future response costs at the Davis site. This provision of CERCLA allows the government to bring a "cost recovery action" against an owner or operator of a facility at which hazardous substances were disposed, against a transporter of hazardous waste, and against a party who arranged...

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