Voggenthaler v. Maryland Square LLC

Decision Date04 October 2013
Docket Number11–15174,Nos. 10–17520,12–16412.,12–16409,11–15176,s. 10–17520
Citation724 F.3d 1050
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit
PartiesPeter J. VOGGENTHALER; William Montero; Barbara Montero; Clifford Rogers; Sharon Rogers; Hermann Rosner; Marcus Rothkranz; Daniel Soldini; Charles Walker; Verna Walker; Jack Yencheck; Ofelia Yencheck; Richard Malm; Roger Ellsworth; Jo Ann Ellsworth; Margaret Rudelich–Hoppe; Patricia Mahoney; Richard Falen; Peter Learned; Kristian Meier; Eliza Acosta; Mirha Elias; Aiko Berge; Victor Becerra; Arthur Bodendorfer; Brenda C. Chaffin; Michael J. Solmi; Jason Cowles; Jane Gauthier; Honore Gauthier; Nikolas Konstantinou; Dragan Kurajica; Kenneth Lowther; James Luehmann; Jacqueline Luehmann; Ruth Mannheimer; State of Nevada, on behalf of Department of Conservation & Natural Resources, Division of Environmental Protection, Plaintiffs–Appellees, v. MARYLAND SQUARE LLC, Defendant–Appellant, and Maryland Square Shopping Center LLC; Herman Kishner Trust, DBA Maryland Square Shopping Center; Irwin Kishner; Jerry Engel; Bank of America, NA, Trustee on behalf of Herman Kishner Trust; Clark County School District; Melvin Shapiro; Shapiro Brothers Investment Company, Defendants. Peter J. Voggenthaler; William Montero; Barbara Montero; Clifford Rogers; Sharon Rogers; Hermann Rosner; Marcus Rothkranz; Daniel Soldini; Charles Walker; Verna Walker; Jack Yencheck; Ofelia Yencheck; Richard Malm; Roger Ellsworth; Jo Ann Ellsworth; Margaret Rudelich–Hoppe; Patricia Mahoney; Richard Falen; Peter Learned; Kristian Meier; Eliza Acosta; Mirha Elias; Aiko Berge; Victor Becerra; Arthur Bodendorfer; Brenda C. Chaffin; Michael J. Solmi; Jason Cowles; Jane Gauthier; Honore Gauthier; Nikolas Konstantinou; Dragan Kurajica; Kenneth Lowther; James Luehmann; Jacqueline Luehmann; Ruth Mannheimer, Plaintiffs–Appellees, Maryland Square Shopping Center LLC, Trustee on behalf of Herman Kishner Trust, Defendant–Intervenor, State of Nevada, on behalf of Department of Conservation & Natural Resources, Division of Environmental Protection, Plaintiff–Intervenor, Bank of America, NA, Trustee on behalf of Herman Kishner Trust; Jerry Engel, Trustee on behalf of Herman Kishner Trust; Herman Kishner Trust, Trustee on behalf of Herman Kishner Trust, DBA Maryland Square Shopping Center; Irwin Kishner, Trustee on behalf of Herman Kishner Trust, Defendants–Intervenors, v. Shapiro Brothers Investment Company, Defendant–Appellant, and Clark County School District; Melvin Shapiro; Maryland Square LLC, Trustee on behalf of Herman Kishner Trust, Defendants. Peter J. Voggenthaler; William Montero; Barbara Montero; Clifford Rogers; Sharon Rogers; Hermann Rosner; Marcus Rothkranz; Daniel Soldini; Charles Walker; Verna Walker; Jack Yencheck; Ofelia Yencheck; Richard Malm; Roger Ellsworth; Jo Ann Ellsworth; Margaret Rudelich–Hoppe; Patricia Mahoney; Richard Falen; Peter Learned; Kristian Meier; Eliza Acosta; Mirha Elias; Aiko Berge; Victor Becerra; Arthur Bodendorfer; Brenda C. Chaffin; Michael J. Solmi; Jason Cowles; Jane Gauthier; Honore Gauthier; Nikolas Konstantinou; Dragan Kurajica; Kenneth Lowther; James Luehmann; Jacqueline Luehmann; Ruth Mannheimer; State of Nevada, on behalf of Department of Conservation & Natural Resources, Division of Environmental Protection, Plaintiffs, v. Maryland Square Shopping Center LLC; Herman Kishner Trust, DBA Maryland Square Shopping Center; Irwin Kishner; Jerry Engel; Bank of America, Trustee on behalf of Herman Kishner Trust, Defendants–Appellees, v. Melvin Shapiro; Shapiro Brothers Investment Company, Defendants–Appellants, and Maryland Square LLC; Clark County School District, Defendants. Peter J. Voggenthaler; William Montero; Barbara Montero; Clifford Rogers; Sharon Rogers; Hermann Rosner; Marcus Rothkranz; Daniel Soldini; Charles Walker; Verna Walker; Jack Yencheck; Ofelia Yencheck; Richard Malm; Roger Ellsworth; Jo Ann Ellsworth; Margaret Rudelich–Hoppe; Patricia Mahoney; Richard Falen; Peter Learned; Kristian Meier; Eliza Acosta; Mirha Elias; Aiko Berge; Victor Becerra; Arthur Bodendorfer; Brenda C. Chaffin; Michael J. Solmi; Jason Cowles; Jane Gauthier; Honore Gauthier; Nikolas Konstantinou; Dragan Kurajica; Kenneth Lowther; James Luehmann; Jacqueline Luehmann; Ruth Mannheimer, Plaintiffs, and State of Nevada, on behalf of Department of Conservation & Natural Resources, Division of Environmental Protection, Plaintiff–Appellee, v. Maryland Square LLC; Maryland Square Shopping Center LLC; Herman Kishner Trust, DBA Maryland Square Shopping Center; Irwin Kishner; Jerry Engel; Bank of America, NA, Trustee on behalf of Herman Kishner Trust; Clark County School District; Melvin Shapiro, Defendants, and Shapiro Brothers Investment Company, Defendant–Appellant. Peter J. Voggenthaler; William Montero; Barbara Montero; Clifford Rogers; Sharon Rogers; Hermann Rosner; Marcus Rothkranz; Daniel Soldini; Charles Walker; Verna Walker; Jack Yencheck; Ofelia Yencheck; Richard Malm; Roger Ellsworth; Jo Ann Ellsworth; Margaret Rudelich–Hoppe; Patricia Mahoney; Richard Falen; Peter Learned; Kristian Meier; Eliza Acosta; Mirha Elias; Aiko Berge; Victor Becerra; Arthur Bodendorfer; Brenda C. Chaffin; Michael J. Solmi; Jason Cowles; Jane Gauthier; Honore Gauthier; Nikolas Konstantinou; Dragan Kurajica; Kenneth Lowther; James Luehmann; Jacqueline Luehmann; Ruth Mannheimer, Plaintiffs, and State of Nevada, on behalf of Department of Conservation & Natural Resources, Division of Environmental Protection, Plaintiff–Appellee, v. Maryland Square LLC, Defendant–Appellant, and Maryland Square Shopping Center LLC; Herman Kishner Trust, DBA Maryland Square Shopping Center; Irwin Kishner; Jerry Engel; Bank of America, NA, Trustee on behalf of Herman Kishner Trust; Clark County School District; Melvin Shapiro; Shapiro Brothers Investment Company, Defendants.

OPINION TEXT STARTS HERE

Alexander Robertson, IV and Jennifer L. Taylor, Robertson & Associates, LLP, Las Vegas, NV; Jan Adam Greben, Greben & Associates, Santa Barbara, CA, for PlaintiffsAppellees Peter J. Voggenthaler, et al.

Catherine Cortez Masto, Attorney General, Carolyn E. Tanner (argued), Senior Deputy Attorney General, and Jasmine K. Mehta (argued), Deputy Attorney General, Carson City, NV, for PlaintiffIntervenorAppellee Nevada Division of Environmental Protection.

Thomas Vandenburg, Joshua Levine, Christopher Smith and John A. Lawrence (argued), Dongell Lawrence Finney, LLP, Los Angeles, CA, for DefendantsIntervenorsAppellees Maryland Square Shopping Center, LLC, et al.

Jeremy Gilman and Gregory J. Lucht (argued), Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff, LLP, Cleveland, OH; Jeffrey T. Oberman, Levin & Oberman, Beverly Hills, CA, for DefendantsAppellants Melvin Shapiro and Shapiro Brothers Investment Co.

Franklin H. Levy and Joshua M.D. Segal (argued), Lawson & Weitzen, LLP, Boston, MA; Shan Davis, Shan Davis & Associates, Las Vegas, NV, for DefendantAppellant Maryland Square, LLC.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Nevada, Robert Clive Jones, Chief District Judge, Presiding. D.C. No. 2:08–cv–01618–RCJ–GWF, D.C. No. 3:09–cv–00231–RCJ–GWF.

Before: MARY M. SCHROEDER, SIDNEY R. THOMAS, and BARRY G. SILVERMAN, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

SCHROEDER, Circuit Judge:

Two environmental statutes everyone loves to hate are the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (“CERCLA”) and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”). In combination, they make owners of contaminated property and contributors to contamination responsible for cleaning up toxic waste, and, if someone else cleans up the waste, liable for the costs of that clean up. This litigation illustrates the point. It involves seepage over several decades of a toxic dry cleaning chemical into the ground under a Las Vegas shopping center. There have been two district court actions leading to multiple appeals.

Neighboring homeowners brought the first action, seeking injunctive relief against the property owners of the shopping center and operators of the dry cleaning facility. The Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (“NDEP”) brought the other action to recover its clean up costs. The district court granted summary judgment for both sets of plaintiffs on all claims. The current owner and the former operators of the dry cleaning facility appeal. There are numerous procedural issues, but the principal legal contention is that application of CERCLA to this conduct that occurred solely in Nevada violates the Commerce Clause.

We largely affirm the district court, including its rejection of that constitutional challenge. We vacate the grant of summary judgment under CERCLA against the current owner and remand so the owner may have an opportunity to make the additional showing that would be necessary to establish that it meets an exception to CERCLA liability. We reverse on procedural grounds the grant of summary judgment under RCRA against the current owner and the operators because those defendants did not have an adequate opportunity to respond to plaintiffs' claims. We also reverse the grant of summary judgment against one guarantor, because there is no evidence of spills during the term of his guaranty.

THE STATUTES

CERCLA and RCRA, passed by Congress within a few years of each other, both address the problem of environmental contamination from hazardous waste disposal, but they employ different means. Congress passed CERCLA in 1980, motivated by several environmental catastrophes, especially the infamous Love Canal disaster in Niagra Falls, New York. S.Rep. No. 96–848, at 8–10 (1980). The statute authorizes governments or private parties to clean up polluted sites and seek compensation from the polluters. 42 U.S.C. § 9607. It is designed to ensure that the cost of clean up is “borne by those responsible for the contamination.” Burlington N. & Santa Fe Ry. Co. v. United States, 556 U.S. 599, 602, 129 S.Ct. 1870, 173...

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