Type: Law Bulletins
Date: 05/25/2017

Judge Dismisses Some Claims Related to Site Used to Develop First Atomic Bombs

Recently, in 105 Mt. Kisko Associates, LLC v. Carozza, No. 15 Civ. 5346, 2017 WL 1194700 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 30, 2017), the Southern District of New York ruled that the owners of a property contaminated by World War II-era radioactive materials can proceed against some, but not all, defendants, as it granted several motions to dismiss in part and in whole.

The property, located in Mount Kisko, N.Y., was utilized as a refinery to develop uranium for the Manhattan Project during World War II and to produce other radioactive materials afterwards. The site became heavily contaminated as a result of these activities. Subsequent owners made attempts to remediate the property over the next several decades, but the eventual demolition of the uranium refinery itself led to further contamination.

Led by majority owner Mark Stagg, the plaintiffs brought suit under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA”), against a total of 11 defendants, including Stagg’s former business partner and former owner of the property, Paul Carozza, as well as the village of Mount Kisco, the Westchester County Department of Health, the United States and several private companies.

The plaintiffs are seeking upwards of $15 million dollars under CERCLA to complete remediation of the property. The defendants argue that the site was adequately cleaned up in the 1960s and that no additional remediation is needed.

In his ruling, United States District Court Judge Nelson Roman struck down claims against some defendants, including environmental consultants who worked at the property and the entity that owned the property at the time of the refinery’s demolition, finding that the statute of limitations had run. The court also found insufficient facts to support liability against several of the defendants for transporting hazardous materials to the site.

The court ruled that some claims could go forward against the village of Mount Kisco, rejecting its claims of immunity under the 11th Amendment. The court did dismiss several counts against the village, though, ruling that it could not be held liable as a successor to the now-defunct renewal agency who performed some remediation back in the 1960s. The court ordered the plaintiffs to file an amended complaint related to those claims that were not dismissed, clearing the way for discovery to proceed in the case.

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