and Casey Village ("C.V."). The readings from these monitoring wells are:
Closest Midway Furthest
to C.V. from C.V. from C.V.
TCE 120 ppb 1.2 ppb 0 ppb
PCE 0 ppb 0 ppb 0 ppb
44. Mr. Bennett testified that these findings showed that there was no possibility that groundwater flowed from sites 5, 6, & 7 to Casey Village. Tr., 6/19/96, p. 56.
45. The distribution of contaminants studies consistently reflect that the levels of PCE and TCE contamination are significantly higher in Casey Village than at the NAWC. Tr., 6/18/96, pp. 142-43.
Source of Casey Village's Contamination
46. Defendant's experts, each of whom was highly qualified in his or her field, uniformly testified to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty that the groundwater at the NAWC's sites 4-7 flowed away from Casey Village; that pumping at Casey Village never altered that flow; that the water level elevation is higher at Casey Village than at sites 4-7; that there is a groundwater divide separating sites 4-7 and Casey Village; that the amount of water from precipitation exceeded the amount needed to recharge the Casey Village wells; that therefore, sites 4-7 were not the source of contamination at Casey Village and that the sources of Casey Village's contamination were located within Casey Village itself. Tr., 6/18/96, pp. 24-25, 31-32, 50-53, 129-32, 140-50, 160, 182-86, 191, 198-99; Def. Ex. 34; Def. Ex. 45.
47. In 1994, the EPA determined that hydrogeologic studies had shown that the NAWC could not be the source of the TCE and PCE contamination in Casey Village. Def. Ex. 53.
48. This Court finds that Plaintiffs' theory of the Casey Village contamination is not credible in light of all the above evidence.
The only question this Court addresses is whether or not, in the words of the bifurcation order, "contaminants from the NAWC disposal sites contaminated the Plaintiffs' wells." Plaintiffs bear the burden of proof on this issue and must prove causation by a preponderance of the evidence. To do this, Plaintiffs must show both causation in fact (but for causation) and proximate cause. Miller v. Group Voyagers, Inc., 912 F. Supp. 164, 167 (E.D. Pa. 1996) (quoting Robertson v. Allied Signal, Inc., 914 F.2d 360, 366-67 (3d Cir. 1990)); Morena v. South Hills Health Sys., 501 Pa. 634, 642 n.5, 462 A.2d 680, 684 n.5 (1983).
We first ask whether Plaintiffs have proved but for causation. Mateer v. United States Aluminum, Inc., 1989 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6323, 88-2147, 1989 Westlaw 60442 at *4 (E.D. Pa. June 6, 1989). Plaintiffs' expert opined that the conditions that existed at Casey Village, including highly fractured bedrock and great amounts of pumping from Casey Village wells, drew so much water from Casey Village's groundwater that the wells were forced to reach out to other groundwater to service the Casey Village wells. This other groundwater allegedly came from sites 4-7 and brought with it the contaminants at issue.
We found above that Defendant's experts' opinions were more credible than Plaintiffs' expert's theory. We based this finding on overwhelming evidence that Plaintiffs' theory was implausible. Evidence, for example, that Casey Village is at a higher elevation than the NAWC, that there is a groundwater divide between the NAWC and Casey Village, that there was ample precipitation to replenish the Casey Village wells without resort to other groundwater and that the pumping and fractures would not have reversed the flow of the NAWC's groundwater to bring it to Casey Village.
We do not decide where the source of the contamination at Casey Village was. That is not relevant to our task; our question is whether the Plaintiffs have shown, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the contamination at the NAWC's sites 4-7 did travel to Casey Village. This is far more than showing that the NAWC pollution could have contaminated Casey Village. Galullo v. Federal Express Corp., 937 F. Supp. 392, 1996 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8736, No. 95-6238, 1996 Westlaw 354757 at *4-5 (E.D. Pa. June 24, 1996); Tr., 6/18/96, pp.147-48.
Based on the evidence, we find that Plaintiffs have failed to meet their burden. At most, we find that they have presented a possibility that some particles of contaminants may have spread over to Casey Village. Because this is an insufficient showing, we must conclude that Plaintiffs have not proved cause in fact. Without this showing, Plaintiffs cannot make out a claim of negligence, and judgment in Plaintiffs' favor cannot be issued.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
1. Plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate that contaminants from the waste disposal sites 4-7 on the NAWC actually reached Plaintiffs' wells.
2. A verdict and judgment in Defendant's favor are appropriate.
An appropriate Order follows.
AND NOW, this 13th day of August, 1996, following a nonjury trial in this matter and upon careful consideration of the record and the parties' proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law, and for the reasons set forth in the preceding Decision, it is hereby ORDERED that Verdict and Judgment are hereby entered in favor of Defendant on all Counts in Plaintiffs' Complaint.
BY THE COURT:
J. CURTIS JOYNER, J.
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