United States District Court, D. New Jersey
NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION, and ADMINISTRATOR, NEW JERSEY SPILL COMPENSATION FUND Plaintiffs,
AMERICAN THERMOPLASTICS CORP., et al., Defendants. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
BECKMAN COULTER, INC. f/k/a BECKMAN INSTRUMENTS, INC., et al., Defendants.
WILLIAM H. WALLS UNITEA STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
before the Court are two summary-judgment motions. In the
first, third-party defendants Carter Day Industries, Inc.
("CDI"), Combe Fill Corporation ("CFC"),
and Combustion Equipment Associates, Inc. ("CEA")
(collectively, the "Carter Day Parties") move for
summary judgment on all counts. ECF No. 1341. In the second,
third-party plaintiffs Compaction System Corporation of
Connecticut, Inc. ("Compaction-CT") and Compaction
Systems Corporation (a New Jersey Corporation)
"Compaction"), move for partial summary judgment.
ECF No. 1342.
pending are Compaction's motions for estoppel, ECF No.
1343, and spoliation sanctions, ECF No. 1344. For the reasons
that follow, the Carter Day Parties' motion is granted,
and Compaction's motions are denied.
evidenced by the more than one thousand docket entries, this
is a complicated matter with a lengthy procedural history. It
involves the allocation of environmental clean-up costs at
the Combe Fill South Superfund Site (the "Site").
On October 19, 1998, the New Jersey Department of
Environmental Protection ("NJDEP") and the
Administrator of the New Jersey Spill Compensation Fund
("Administrator") filed a complaint against
Compaction, among many others, under the Comprehensive
Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act
("CERCLA") and various New Jersey environmental
laws seeking to recover past and future response costs at the
Site. ECF No. 1. The next day, the United States filed a
separate complaint against Compaction, among many others,
seeking to recover clean-up costs at the Site under CERCLA.
Civ. No. 98-4812, ECF No. 1. The Court consolidated these
actions on March 16, 1999 under civil docket number 98-4781.
ECF No. 60.
of the consolidated proceedings, Compaction agreed in 2009 to
pay the United States Environmental Protection Agency
("USEPA") and NJDEP $11 million as settlement to
reimburse those agencies' remediation efforts at the
Site. See ECF No. 1128 (consent judgment).
Compaction accepted an additional $26 million judgment
against itself, to be paid in the event that it recovered
funds from third-party defendants in excess of $11 million.
2000 and 2007, Compaction served the Carter Day Parties on
multiple occasions with a Third-Party Summons and Complaint;
the Carter Day Parties failed to respond, and the Court
entered default against them. See generally ECF No.
1073 (ordering entry of default against the Carter Day
Parties and summarizing relevant procedural history). The
Carter Day Parties then moved to set aside the Court's
entry of default, ECF No. 1152, and the Court granted their
motion, ECF No. 1162. In December 2011, Compaction filed a
First Amended Third-Party Complaint against the Carter Day
Parties seeking to recover a portion of the costs it agreed
to pay USEPA and NJDEP. ECF No. 1164.
five-count First Amended Third-Party Complaint is the subject
of the summary-judgment motions now before the Court. In it,
Compaction seeks (i) cost recovery under CERCLA Section
107(a) (Count 1); (ii) contribution under CERCLA Section
113(f) (Count 2); (iii) a declaratory judgment under state
and federal law (Count 3); (iv) contribution under the New
Jersey Joint Tortfeasors Contribution Act (Count 4); and (v)
common-law contribution and indemnification (Count 5).
Site is an approximately 65-acre parcel of land located on
Parker Road in the Chester and Washington Townships, New
Jersey. ECF No. 1348-1 at 2. It operated as a landfill from
1948 to 1981. Rosen Cert. Ex. 1. The USEPA placed the Site on
the National Priorities List on September 8, 1983. Rosen
Cert. Ex. 1.
Chester Hills, Inc., which is not involved in the instant
motions, owned and operated the Site from 1948 until
September 1978, when ownership passed to CFC. Id.
CFC then owned the Site until it filed a bankruptcy petition
in 1981; the parties dispute whether CFC's ownership
terminated upon its bankruptcy-petition filing. Id.;
ECF No. 1347-1 at 2. In November 1981, the Site closed. Rosen
Cert. Ex. 2. By agreement with CFC, Compaction conducted
operations at the Site from the time of CFCs 1978 purchase
until the Site's closure in 1981. Id. Exs. 2, 6.
The parties dispute whether Compaction was the exclusive
operator of the Site during this time period. ECF No. 1347-1
CEA & CDI
a New York corporation and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy
protection on October 20, 1980, listing Compaction-CT, the
NJDEP, and others as unsecured creditors. Rosen Cert. Exs. 8,
9. A bar date for all claims was set for October 29, 1982.
Id. Ex. 10. The parties dispute whether CEA also
listed the USEPA as an unsecured creditor. ECF No. 1347-1 at
CEA's bankruptcy, Compaction-CT filed a proof of claim
for approximately $200, 000. Rosen Cert. Ex. 11. The
bankruptcy-court judge expunged that claim on March 11, 1986.
Id. Ex. 12. The NJDEP also filed a proof of claim
for $5 million arising out of "liability [for] the costs
of closure of the sanitary landfills operated by the
debtor" at the Combe Fill North and South sites. Rosen
Cert. Ex. 13. The court disallowed that claim on July 7,
1983. Id. Ex. 14. The USEPA never filed a claim
against CEA. Id. Ex. 11. On December 21, 1983, the
court approved CEA's reorganization plan, under which CEA
amended its certificate of incorporation to, among other
things, change its name to Carter Day Industries, Inc.
Id. Exs. 15, 16.
30, 1986, CEA initiated an adversary proceeding against the
USEPA and the NJDEP in its bankruptcy action. Rosen Cert. Ex.
10. In it, CEA noted that the NJDEP had already settled its
$5 million claim against CFC for $50, 000; that the
NJDEP's identical claim against CEA had been disallowed;
that the USEPA had also settled with CFC for $50, 000; and
that the USEPA continued to assert that it had a right to
pursue a claim against CEA, too. Id. CEA sought a
judgment declaring that the NJDEP's and USEPA's
claims against it "arising from the Combe Fill landfill
sites" were discharged in bankruptcy, and enjoining them
from pursuing any further claims. Id. The court
dismissed the action against the USEPA as unripe, and the
Second Circuit affirmed, observing that the USEPA had simply
named CEA as a potentially responsible party
("PRP"), and evidently had not determined whether
to bring a CERCLA action against CEA. In re Combustion
Equip. Assocs., Inc., 838 F.2d 35 (1988).
proceeded against the NJDEP, and in November 1991, the
bankruptcy judge approved a settlement agreement between CEA
and the NJDEP. Rosen Cert. Ex. 17. Under the terms of the
settlement, "all claims of NJDEP against Carter Day with
respect to the Combe Fill sites [were] discharged."
New Jersey company, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on October
15, 1981 and listed Compaction-NJ as a creditor. Id.
Ex. 20. The bar date for filing claims against CFC was May 3,
1982. Id. Ex. 22. Compaction never filed a proof of
claim in the CFC bankruptcy proceedings. Id. Ex. 23.
NJDEP filed a proof of claim in April 1982 for approximately
$5 million for "liability [for] the costs of closure of
the sanitary landfills operated by the debtor" at the
Combe Fill North and South sites. Id. Ex. 24. That
claim was nearly identical to the claim the NJDEP filed in
CEA's bankruptcy proceedings. See Id. Ex. 13.
The parties reduced and settled the NJDEP's claim for
$50, 000 in a January 17, 1984 order of the bankruptcy-court
judge. Id. Ex. 25.
January 22, 1986, the USEPA filed an Application for
Reimbursement of Administrative Expenses in the CFC
bankruptcy, claiming costs for CERCLA response actions at the
Site. Id. Ex. 26. By a June 4, 1986 order of the
bankruptcy-court judge, the parties reduced and settled the
USEPA's claim for $50, 000. Id. Ex. 27.
Compaction's Settlement with the NJDEP and USEPA
2009, a number of defendants in this litigation entered into
a consent decree with the USEPA and NJDEP. Id. Ex.
31. That settlement included $69 million of past response
costs at the Site, approximately $3.2 million for natural
resource damages, and the purchase of an annuity for future
response costs totaling $27 million. Id. at 16.
Compaction paid $11 million as its share of those settlement
costs. Id. at 17. In addition, Compaction
voluntarily accepted an additional judgment of $26 million,
to be paid only if it is able to recover an amount exceeding
$11 million from the Carter Day Parties. Id. Ex. 33.
judgment is appropriate where "the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A factual dispute between the parties
must be both genuine and material to defeat a motion for
summary judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). A disputed fact is material
where it would affect the outcome of the suit under the
relevant substantive law. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S.
372, 380 (2007). A dispute is genuine where a rational trier
of fact could return a verdict for the non-movant.
movant bears the initial burden to demonstrate the absence of
a genuine issue of material fact for trial. Beard v.
Banks, 548 U.S. 521, 529 (2006). Once the movant has
carried this burden, the non-movant "must do more than
simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the
material facts" in question. Scott, 550 U.S. at
380 (citing Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986)). "[W]ith
respect to an issue on which the nonmoving party bears the
burden of proof... the burden on the moving party may be
discharged by 'showing'-that is, pointing out to the
district court-that there is an absence of evidence to
support the nonmoving party's case." Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). Once the
moving party has satisfied its initial burden, the party
opposing the motion must establish that a genuine issue as to
a material fact exists. Jersey Cent. Power & Light
Co. v. Lacey Township, 772 F.2d 1103, 1109 (3d Cir.
1985). The party opposing the motion for summary judgment
cannot rest on mere allegations and instead must present
actual evidence that creates a genuine issue as to a material
fact for trial. Siegel Transfer, Inc. v. Carrier Express,
Inc., 54F.3d 1125, 1130-31 (3d Cir. 1995).
party must support its position by "citing to particular
parts of materials in the record ... or showing that the
materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a
genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce
admissible evidence to support the fact." Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(c)(1). Facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to
the nonmoving party only if there is a genuine dispute as to
those facts. Scott, 550 U.S. at 380. At this stage,
"the judge's function is not... to weigh the
evidence and determine the truth of the matter."
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249.
The Carter Day Parties' Motion for ...