Ametek granted partial judgment in alleged ground contamination cased filed by mobile home parks' owners

By Charmaine Little | May 10, 2018

SAN DIEGO – The owners of mobile home parks were not able to immediately claim compensatory damages after they alleged a nearby facility dumped toxic waste on its property.

SAN DIEGO – The owners of mobile home parks were not able to immediately claim compensatory damages after they alleged a nearby facility dumped toxic waste on its property.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California granted in part defendant Ametek Inc.'s motion for summary judgment in part April 12.

The court stated that Ametek pointed out the plaintiff Greenfield MHP Associates LP, et al. are not allowed to be rewarded compensatory damages grounded on any potential remediation costs for the future. The district court decided the case will proceed under the notion that if the plaintiffs do win at trial when it comes to Ametek’s alleged liability, the district court will move forward with the new information in mind.

The legal issues between the parties began after the mobile home parks' owners filed a lawsuit against Ametek and Senior Operations LLC after a manufacturing facility allegedly contaminated the ground after it released toxic chemicals, including more than 500,000 gallons of liquid waste into the soil and water by 2003. The plaintiffs allege a plume extended beyond the facility's boundaries and contaminated soil and groundwater under the mobile home parks. An expert pointed out that if the plume was not remediated, it could impact the plaintiffs' properties for 185 years, the court's decision states.

The defendants started the process of remediating with pump-and-treat systems in 2012, the court decision states. Still, Greenfield alleges that Ametek’s remediation strategy does not cover its property. It also claims Ametek never suggested any possible solutions to remediate Greenfield’s areas. Greenfield alleges its property continues to get toxic chemicals from Ametek’s facility.

Greenfield, et al. sued Ametek and Senior Operations LLC for negligence, gross negligence, private nuisance and trespassing in 2015. The plaintiffs requested monetary damages “for the cost to abate the continuing nuisance” as well as punitive damages. Ametek then filed for summary judgment.

The district court decided federal law does not anticipate the plaintiffs' claims and the state’s environmental cleanup statute blocks Greenfield from receiving any damages for future remediation costs. The court also pointed out that under California law, a court is not permitted to grant damages for future remediation costs. The court also decided Greenfield’s claims are timely.

Considering this, the district court partially granted Ametek’s motion for summary judgment. The court stated it would face the issue of remediation if plaintiffs win in the trial case.

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