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United States v. Lightman

June 30, 1999

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JEROME LIGHTMAN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Simandle, District Judge:

HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE

OPINION

This matter is before the court on the motion of the members of the Joint Defense Group ("JDG") *fn1 for partial summary judgment, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(d), declaring defendant Lightman Drum Company, Inc. ("LDC") severally liable to the JDG for past and future response costs at the Ewan and D'Imperio Superfund Sites under Section 113 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act ("CERCLA"), 42 U.S.C. § 9613, and dismissing the crossclaims of LDC and defendant Jerome Lightman. Because the court finds that there is no genuine issue of material fact as to LDC's several liability for past and future response costs incurred by the JDG at the Ewan and D'Imperio sites, and because the court finds that neither LDC nor Jerome Lightman have incurred any response costs in connection with the Ewan and D'Imperio sites, the court grants the JDG's motion.

BACKGROUND

This is a civil action to identify the parties that should bear the cost of cleaning up environmental contamination at the Ewan and D'Imperio Superfund Sites caused by LDC's illegal dumping of hazardous waste at the sites during the mid-1970's. For the purposes of this motion, LDC and Jerome Lightman stipulate to the following facts.

Lightman Drum Company

LDC began operation as a business buying and selling reconditioned 55-gallon drums in the late 1950's or early 1960's. (Gladstone Certification ("Gladstone Cert."), Ex. 1, pg. 3, A-1 and A-3; Ex. 10, A-1 and A-3.) In April of 1974, LDC moved its operation from Philadelphia to a new location in the vicinity of Berlin, New Jersey. (Gladstone Cert., Ex. 1, pg. 3, A-2; Ex. 10, A-2.)

LDC's reconditioned drum business consisted of removing empty drums from customer locations, selling them directly to a drum reconditioner, and selling reconditioned drums to its customers. (Gladstone Cert., Ex. 1, pgs. 3-4, A-4 through A-6; Ex. 10, A-4 through A-6.) Though empty drums received by LDC for reconditioning may have contained a waste residue, LDC did not begin removing drums filled with waste until 1972. (Gladstone Cert., Ex. 1, pg. 5, A-8; Ex. 10, A-8.)

The founder and president of LDC was Marvin ("Mike") Lightman. He was in charge of LDC operations during his lifetime. (Gladstone Cert., Ex. 1, pg. 6, A-12 and A-13; Ex. 10, A-12 and A-13.) It was principally he who made arrangements for drum waste disposal at the various disposal locations utilized by LDC. (Gladstone Cert., Ex. 1, pg. 6, A-14; Ex. 10, A-14.)

Jerome Lightman is the son of Mike Lightman. Between 1970 and 1978, Jerome Lightman served as Vice-President of LDC. (Gladstone Cert., Ex. 1, pgs. 6-7, A-15 & A-16; Ex. 10, A-16.) As Vice-President, Jerome Lightman served LDC as a truck driver, and maintained oversight responsibilities of the LDC yard. (Gladstone Cert., Ex. 1, pg. 7, A-17 and A-18; Ex. 10, A-17 and A-18.) Jerome Lightman also supervised operations for Mike Lightman when Mike Lightman was not available and made disposal decisions at such times, some of which occurred during the relevant time period ("RTP") in this litigation. (Gladstone Cert., Ex. 2, pg. 237, line 23 through pg. 238, line 10.) Jerome Lightman assumed the responsibilities previously undertaken by his father after his father became ill in 1976. Mike Lightman died in September, 1978. (Gladstone Cert., Ex. 1, pgs. 7-8, A-19 through A-22; Ex. 10, A-19 through A-22.)

The RTP in this litigation runs from the Fall of 1974 to December 31, 1976, when LDC allegedly disposed of hazardous waste at the Ewan Property Superfund Site ("Ewan Site") in Shamong Township, Burlington County, and the D'Imperio Property Superfund Site ("D'Imperio Site") in Hamilton Township, Atlantic County.

The Parties

The JDG defendants were customers of LDC during the RTP. Defendant Stepan Company ("Stepan") was also a customer of LDC during the RTP. (Cert., Exhibit "4", pg. 4.) Disposal sites utilized by LDC during the RTP included the Ewan and D'Imperio Sites. (Gladstone Cert., Ex. 10, E-1, E-2 and G-1.) Other ...


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