Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Shulman v. Chromatex

December 16, 2009

ALAN SHULMAN, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CHROMATEX, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge McClure

MEMORANDUM

BACKGROUND

On February 5, 2009, plaintiffs Alan Shulman; Stanley Siegel; Ruth Cherenson, as personal representative of the estate of Alan Cherenson; and Adrienne Rolla and M.F. Rolla, as executors of the estate of Joseph Byrnes ("Plaintiffs"), instituted this civil action. (Rec. Doc. No. 1). Plaintiffs named as defendants in their original complaint Chromatex, Inc. ("Chromatex"); Rossville Industries, Inc. ("Rossville Industries"); Rossville Companies, Inc. ("Rossville Companies"); Rossville Investments, Inc. F/k/a A&E Leasing Company ("Rossville Investments"); and Culp, Inc. ("Culp").

At issue in the case is what party or parties should be deemed liable for additional and future response costs incurred by the United States Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") in respect to a property located in the Valmont Industrial Park in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania ("Property"). The Property was purchased in July of 1978 by The Valmont Group, a New Jersey general partnership comprised of partners Alan Shulman, Stanley Siegel, Alan Cherenson, James Cochran, and Joseph Byrnes.

In their original complaint, the plaintiffs seek relief based on a number of counts. First, the plaintiffs contend that they are entitled to contribution from Chromatex, Rossville Industries, and Culp pursuant to section 113(f) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, 42 U.S.C. § 9613(f) ("CERCLA") (Count I). Second, the plaintiffs seek declaratory judgment against Chromatex, Rossville Industries, and Culp regarding the apportionment of liability as to additional and future response costs (Count II). Third, plaintiffs claim that defendants Chromatex, Rossville Industries, Rossville Companies, Rossville Investments, and Culp are required to indemnify the plaintiffs as to the response costs at issue based on an indemnification contract entered into between the defendants and the Valmont Group partners (Count III). Fourth, the plaintiffs allege that defendants Chromatex, Rossville Industries, Rossville Companies, Rossville Investments, and Culp breached the indemnification contract entered into with the Valmont Group partners (Count IV).

On March 24, 2008, defendant Culp filed an answer to the original complaint, as well as a cross-claim against Chromatex, Rossville Industries, Rossville Companies, and Rossville Investments. (Rec. Doc. No. 13). On April 9, 2008, defendants Chromatex, Rossville Industries, Rossville Companies, and Rossville Investments filed an answer to the complaint. (Rec. Doc. No. 16). Defendants Chromatex, Rossville Industries, Rossville Companies, and Rossville Investments filed an answer to defendant Culp's cross-claim on April 14, 2008. (Rec. Doc. No. 17).

On December 23, 2008, the Honorable A. Richard Caputo granted the motion by counsel for Chromatex, Rossville Industries, Rossville Companies, and Rossville Investments to withdraw as counsel. (Rec. Doc. Nos. 23 and 22). The instant case was reassigned to this Court on January 9, 2009. (Rec. Doc. No. 26). On January 22, 2009, this Court denied the plaintiffs' motion seeking to direct the defendants to secure replacement counsel. (Rec. Doc. No. 27 and 26).

Plaintiffs filed a motion to compel discovery on February 26, 2009, as well as a brief in support. (Rec. Doc. Nos. 32 and 33). On March 25, 2009, this Court granted the plaintiffs' motion to compel discovery. (Rec. Doc. No. 34). The plaintiffs filed a renewed motion to compel responses to discovery requests that were served on Rossville Industries and a brief in support thereof. (Rec. Doc. Nos. 37 and 38). This Court granted the plaintiffs' renewed motion to compel discovery on June 2, 2009. (Rec. Doc. No. 42).

On June 1, 2009, plaintiffs filed a motion seeking to extend the time in which to complete discovery. (Rec. Doc. No. 39). Although defendant Culp did not oppose the motion, Culp did file a response in which it clarified several statements made by plaintiffs in their motion seeking to extend time in which to complete discovery. (Rec. Doc. No. 40). On June 2, 2009, this Court granted the plaintiffs' motion. (Rec. Doc. No. 41). This Court granted an additional motion for an extension of the discovery period on October 16, 2009. (Rec. Doc. Nos. 53 and 49).

On September 18, 2009, the plaintiffs filed the motion currently at issue, in which the plaintiffs seek leave to file an amended complaint. (Rec. Doc. No. 43). Plaintiffs filed with their motion a brief in support. (Rec. Doc. No. 44). On October 5, 2009, defendant Culp filed a brief in partial opposition to plaintiffs' motion for leave to file an amended complaint. (Rec. Doc. No. 47). On October 19, 2009, the plaintiffs filed a reply brief. (Rec. Doc. No. 54). The matter, then, is ripe for disposition. For the following reasons, we will grant the plaintiffs' motion seeking leave to file an amended complaint.

STATEMENT OF FACTS

As noted above, the Valmont Group, a New Jersey general partnership comprised of partners Alan Shulman, Stanley Siegel, Alan Cherenson, James Cochran, and Joseph Byrnes, purchased the Property in July of 1978. After purchasing the Property, which included an industrial plant and a parking area, the Valmont Group leased the Property to Chromatex, which operated a fabric manufacturing plant from July 1978 until April 2001. As part of its fabric manufacturing operations, Chromatex used trichloroethylene ("TCE"), which allegedly was released into the surrounding environment and groundwater. In December of 1986, Rossville Industries acquired Chromatex and continued to operate that company as its wholly-owned subsidiary.

In October of 1991, Chromatex and Rossville Industries purchased the Property from the plaintiffs. Chromatex and Rossville, in purchasing the Property, agreed to indemnify and defend the plaintiffs from liability "arising out of any event, activity or condition associated with the environmental laws and/or the release of hazardous materials regardless of when such liability arose or may arise" ("Indemnification Contract"). (Rec. Doc. No. 44 at 3). It appears as though Chromatex and Rossville Industries paid a lower price for the Property, as those entities understood the attendant environmental issues concerning the Property.

The EPA eventually filed suit against both Chromatex and the plaintiffs in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania pursuant to section 107 of the CERCLA, 42 U.S.C. § 9607. Chromatex appears to have met its obligations under the Indemnification Contract between itself and the plaintiffs. As a result, Rossville Investments*fn1 paid the resulting monetary judgment of $682,002.16, issued by this Court on February 9, 1994, that EPA had obtained based on its lawsuit against the plaintiffs and Chromatex ("1994 Judgment"). Plaintiffs also claim that the EPA obtained a declaratory judgment entitling it to future response costs related to the Property.

In 1993, Culp purchased Chromatex and a number of Rossville entities.*fn2

Plaintiffs claim that the Chromatex facility was operated in a manner that was substantially similar to that of the facility's prior owners.

According to plaintiffs, they were unaware that the EPA pursued continued actions and incurred continued costs relating to the contamination of the Property. Plaintiffs claim that they did not learn of these activities until 2005, at which time the EPA sent the plaintiffs an invoice amounting to more than $3 million regarding response actions undertaken by the EPA, actions which presumably have been taken since the 1994 Judgment. In addition, plaintiffs allege that they have received more than $8.6 million worth of invoices regarding EPA response activities on the Property. Plaintiffs also claim that Chromatex and Rossville Industries, as well as Culp as a subsequent owner of Chromatex and other Rossville entities, have refused to ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.