United States of America
Liability, Declaratory Relief, Permits, Property, Damages
Plaintiffs appealed the district court's dismissal of their claims against manufacturers of dry cleaning equipment brought, inter alia, under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 (RCRA), 42 U.S.C. 6901 et seq. At issue was whether the district court properly held that plaintiffs' allegations that the manufacturers contributed to waste disposal, by the design of machines that generated waste and by the instructions they gave on use of these machines, were insufficient as a matter of law to support a civil action under the RCRA because all of the manufacturers' alleged contributions were passive. The court held that to state a claim predicated on RCRA liability for "contributing to" the disposal of hazardous waste, a plaintiff must allege that defendant had a measure of control over the waste at the time of its disposal or was otherwise actively involved in the waste disposal process. Mere design of equipment that generated waste, which was then improperly discarded by others, was not sufficient. Therefore, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court and held that "contribution" required more active involvement than was alleged as to the manufacturers.