Judge Grants Motions to Dismiss in Ongoing Consent Decree Litigation

An order was issued by a judge in the District of Maryland last Thursday, narrowing the scope of the litigation initially filed by plaintiff 68th Street Site Work Group. The suit, which was first filed against 156 separate defendants, represents the plaintiff’s attempt to recover costs incurred by waste at a landfill on 68th Street in Baltimore.

Dismissal was granted for 29 parties, among them parties such as Pabst and Armacell. The defendants potentially contributed to the landfill site at issue in the case.

The site in question at 68th Street is an aggregate of seven landfills, which respectively make up five separate management areas. The plaintiff, 68th Street Site Work Group, is an unincorporated association that consists of 12 members who contribute to the landfill. In 2013, they worked with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop a remedial action plan for the site.

In 2017, a consent decree was signed between the EPA, the State of Maryland, and the settling defendants (who are members of the 68th Street Site Work Group). Each of the members of the 68th Street Site Work Group were signatories to the consent decree, but the entity itself was not a signatory.

November 2020 marked the initial start of the current suit, when the plaintiff filed against 156 defendants who were not settling defendants in the aforementioned consent decree but still contributed to the landfill at 68th Street. These parties were identified by the plaintiff as “potentially responsible parties (PRPs) for their generation and transportation, and/or their arranging for transportation, of materials containing hazardous substances for disposal and/or treatment at the 68th Street Site.”

Due to their involvement in the landfill’s activity, the plaintiff explains that they are “potentially liable for more than $4.8 million in past costs incurred by the Plaintiff for response activities required by the consent decree.” Because the defendants also disposed of waste at the site, the plaintiff seeks contribution from them in the $4.8 million sum.

Many of the defendants have petitioned the court for a motion to dismiss the suit on the grounds that there is a lack of personal jurisdiction, less-than adequate successor liability, a lack of arranger liability in the suit, and lastly that statutory exemptions exist under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), which is cited in the suit. Of these defendants, Judge Stephanie A. Gallagher recently granted the motion to dismiss to 31 separate companies, while also denying claim dismissal to the outstanding motions from companies.

The plaintiff is represented by Kenny Law Group, Stuart Kaplow, and the Justis Law Firm.