The former owners of an Ohio paper mill aren’t entitled to dismissal of superfund claims on the theory that they are “dead and buried” companies over which the court has no jurisdiction, a federal district court ruled Nov. 15.
More fact-finding is needed to determine whether Howard Paper Group and related companies, former owners of the mill, are dissolved companies with no remaining assets, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio said ( Garrett Day LLC v. Int’l Paper Co. , 2017 BL 409578, S.D. Ohio, No. 15-cv-00036, 11/15/17 ).
The case presents the unusual question whether the defunct, assetless companies are potentially liable “persons” within the meaning of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act.
The litigation stems from hazardous waste at a paper mill in Dayton, Ohio, sold by St. Regis Paper Co. to Howard Paper Mills Inc. in the 1970s.
Howard Paper, HPP Inc., and Harrison Holdings LP allege that their ownership ceased in a 1991 merger with Fox River Paper Co. that dissolved all HPP companies and transferred their assets.
As “dead and buried” entities, the HPP companies can’t be potentially liable persons under superfund, the defendants argued.
But plaintiffs Garrett Day LLC and the Ohio Development Services Agency—who seek to recover $1.7 million in cleanup costs at the site— argued that the HPP companies retained environmental liability in the transfer to Fox River Paper and that discovery should proceed to determine their corporate status.
Though other federal district courts in Ohio have ruled that dead and buried companies can’t be sued under superfund, discovery should be allowed here to explore the status of the companies, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio said.
It also declined to dismiss Garrett Day’s related claims under Ohio environmental and nuisance laws.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Sharon L. Ovington wrote the opinion.
Ice Miller represented Garret Day and The Ohio Development Services Agency.
Coolidge Wall Co. represented the HPP companies.
The opinion is available at http://src.bna.com/uht.
Copyright © 2017 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)