Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Garrison Southfield Park LLC v. Closed Loop Refining and Recovery, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

August 23, 2019

GARRISON SOUTHFIELD PARK LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
CLOSED LOOP REFINING AND RECOVERY, INC., et al., Defendants. OLYMBEC USA LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
CLOSED LOOP REFINING AND RECOVERY, INC., et al., Defendants.

          Elizabeth P. Deavers, Magistrate Judge

          OPINION AND ORDER

          EDMUND A. SARGUS, JR., CHIETONITED STATES DISTRICT CHIEF JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on the Joint Motion for Approval of Settlement Agreements Executed by Plaintiff Garrison Southfield Park LLC ("Garrison"), Plaintiff Olymbec USA LLC ("Olymbec," along with Garrison referred to as "Plaintiffs"), and Defendants e-Lot Electronics Recycling, LLC, eRevival LLC, and eWorks Electronics Services, Inc. ("Settlors"). (17-cv-783, ECF No. 337; 19-cv-1041, ECF No. 259). Also before the Court is Defendant Waste Commission of Scott County, Iowa's ("Defendant Scott County") Motion for Joinder in the Kuusakoski Defendants' Request for Clarification of the Process for Approval of Future Settlements. (17-cv-783, ECF No. 344; 19-cv-1041, ECF No. 263). In addition, the Court will rule on all Motions for Joinder in Support of the Kuusakoski Defendants' Memorandum in Opposition to Settlors' Joint Motion. (17-cv-783, ECF Nos. 355, 356, 359, 360, 368; 19-cv-1041, ECF Nos. 274, 275, 277, 278, 298).

         For the reasons that follow, the Joint Motion is GRANTED (17-cv-783, ECF No. 337; 19-cv-1041s ECF No. 259); Defendant Scott County's Motion for Joinder is DISMISSED as moot (17-cv-783, ECF No. 344; 19-cv-1041, ECF No. 263); and the Motions for Joinder in support of the Kuusakoski Defendants are GRANTED. (17-cv-783, ECF Nos. 355, 356, 359, 360, 368; 19-cv-1041, ECF Nos. 274, 275, 277, 278, 298).

         I.

         These related cases arise under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 ("CERCLA"). (See generally First Am. Compl.). Plaintiffs allege that Defendants "collaborated in an elaborate sham recycling scheme that extended across the country to profit from the stockpiling and subsequent abandonment of more than 64, 000 tons (128 million pounds) of hazardous electronic waste ("E-Waste")." (First Am. Compl. ¶ 2). According to Plaintiffs, "the costs of removing and/or remediating nearly 10 acres of hazardous e-waste at [Plaintiffs' properties] ... will exceed $14.2 million." (Id.). Thus, Plaintiffs seek "declaratory relief, cost recovery, and common law damages resulting from environmental contamination caused by Defendant Closed Loop, Defendant Silagi, and the Arranger/Transporter Defendants at two contiguous warehouses owned by [Plaintiffs] and located at 1655 and 1675 Watkins Road, Columbus, Ohio 43207." (Id. ¶ 1).

         Settlors filed their Joint Motion for Approval of Settlement Agreements on July 23, 2019. (17-cv-783, ECF No. 337-1; 19-cv-1041, ECF No. 259). On August 1, 2019, the Kuusakoski Defendants filed a Memorandum in Response to the proposed settlement agreement. (17-cv-783, ECF No. 354; 19-cv-1041, ECF No. 273). Several other Defendants ("Joinder Defendants") subsequently joined in the Memorandum filed by the Kuusakoski Defendants. (17-cv-783, ECF Nos. 355, 356, 358, 359, 360, 368, 373; 19-CV-1041, ECF Nos. 274, 275, 276, 277, 278, 298, 303). Plaintiffs replied on August 12, 2019. (17-cv-783, ECF No. 394; 19-cv-1041, ECF No. 309). Accordingly, the Joint Motion is ripe for review.

         II.

         "The general policy of the law is to support voluntary settlements." United States v. Cantrell, 92 F.Supp.2d 718, 723 (S.D. Ohio 2000), In determining whether to approve a proposed settlement under CERCLA, the Court must determine whether it is "fair, reasonable and adequate[, ] in other words, consistent with the purposes that CERCLA is intended to serve." Responsible Envtl Sol. All. v. Waste Mgmt, Inc., No. 3:04-cv-013, 2011 WL 382617, at *2 (S.D. Ohio Feb. 3, 2011) (quoting United States v. Akzo Coatings of America, Inc., 949 F.2d 1409, 1435 (6th Cir. 1989). See also United States v. Cannons Eng'g Corp., 899 F.2d 79, 85 (1st Cir. 1990) ("the trial court's review function is only to satisfy itself that the settlement is reasonable, fair and consistent with the purposes that CERCLA is intended to serve").

         "In Akzo Coatings, the Sixth Circuit stressed that in determining whether settlement is fair, reasonable and consistent with the purposes of CERCLA, the District Court must apply an arbitrary and capricious standard." Responsible Envtl., 2011 WL 382617, at *2 (citing Akzo Coatings, 949 F.2d at 1426-1426). Thus, a CERCLA settlement "must be both procedurally and substantively fair." Id. (citing Cannons Eng'g Corp., 899 F.2d at 86). It is not the court's "function to determine whether [a settlement] is the best possible settlement that could have been obtained." Akzo Coatings, 949 F.2d at 1436.

         III.

         A. Procedural Fairness

         With respect to procedural fairness, "[t]here is a strong presumption in favor of voluntary settlements in CERCLA litigation." United States v. 3MCo., No. 3:14-cv-32, 2014 WL 1872914, at *5 (S.D. Ohio May 8, 2014) (citing Akzo Coatings, 949 F.2d at 1436). "To measure procedural fairness, a court should ordinarily look to the negotiation process and attempt to gauge its candor, openness, and bargaining balance." Id. at *3 (quoting Cannons Eng'g Corp., 899 F.2d at 86). For instance, "[p]rocedural fairness requires that settlement negotiations take place at arm's length." Id. (quoting In re Tutu Water Wells CERCLA Litigation, 326 F.3d 201, 207 (3d Cir. 2003)). In addition, the "Court must determine that the negotiators bargained in good faith." Cantrell, 92 F.Supp.2d at 724.

         The Kuusakoski Defendants and Joinder Defendants do not contest the procedural fairness of the proposed settlements. (See generally Mem. in Resp.). Moreover, Settlors provide numerous facts to indicate the procedural fairness of the negotiation process. First, Settlors represent that "Plaintiffs' counsel have, by letter, electronic mail, and/or telephone, invited all of these [potentially responsible parties ("PRP")] to negotiate settlements to pay for the removal and remediation of the [E-Waste] that they contributed to the Facility." (Joint Mot. at 6) (citing 17-cv-783, Heisler Decl. ¶ 12, ECF No. 308-3; 17-cv-783, Womack Decl. ¶ 12, ECF No. 308-4). In addition, Settlors state that all parties to the proposed settlement agreements were represented by independent counsel during negotiations. (Id. at 7) (citing Womack Decl. ¶ 13; Defendants' Decl. ¶ 5). Finally, Settlors point out that the negotiations included "evaluations of Settlors' potential liability, the evidence tying Settlors to Plaintiffs' Facility, the defenses asserted by Settlors, the potential legal fees and costs if settlement does not occur, and past and projected future remediation costs." (Id.) (citing Heisler Decl. ¶ 13; Womack Decl. ¶ 13).

         Accordingly, the Court finds that the proposed settlements were negotiated at arm's length and in good faith. The procedural fairness prong of the CERCLA settlement analysis is satisfied.

         B. Substantive Fairness

         As noted by the United States Supreme Court in Key Tronic Corp., "two of the main purposes of CERCLA [are to] prompt cleanup of hazardous waste sites and [the] imposition of all cleanup costs on the responsible party." 511 U.S. 809, 815 n.6 (1994) (quoting Gen. Elec. Co. v. Litton Indus. Automation Sys., Inc., 920 F.2d 1415, 1422 (8th Cir. 1990) (abrogated on other grounds)). Thus, the Court considers whether Settlors' proposed settlement agreements are fair, reasonable, and consistent with these purposes.

         In their Memorandum in Response, the Kuusakoski Defendants state they "do not object to the proposed settlements, assuming that the Kuusakoski [D]efendants reserve all rights and that the current proposed settlements do not establish a precedent that later settlements must contain the same settlement terms or utilize the same settlement formula." (17-cv-783, Mem. in Resp. at 2, ECF No. 354). In other words, "[w]hile the Kuusakoski Defendants do not object to these proposed settlements, given the early stage of this litigation, these defendants cannot judge and ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.