Orange County Water Dist. v. Alcoa Global FastenersAnnotate this Case
In 2004, the District filed this lawsuit against a number of defendants to address current and threatened groundwater contamination in the North Basin. In its operative first amended complaint (FAC), the District alleged each defendant owned or operated one or more industrial sites in northern Orange County where hazardous wastes (i.e., VOC's) had been released into the environment. The release of hazardous wastes had caused or threatened to cause contamination in groundwater within the District's geographic area. The District sought compensatory and punitive damages, attorney fees, costs, an order finding defendants liable for the full cost of remediation, an order declaring the contamination a nuisance and compelling defendants to abate it, and any other proper relief. Defendants cross-complained against the District for, among other things, a declaration of no liability. The trial court found in favor of defendants, and against the District, on its claims under the Orange County Water District Act (OCWD) and the Carpenter-PresleyTanner Hazardous Substances Account Act (HSAA) and for declaratory relief. The court found that each defendant was "entitled to a judicial declaration that it has no liability to the District for damages, response costs, or other costs claimed by the District, or any future costs associated with the NBGPP." The court found that the District's claims for negligence, nuisance, and trespass required the District to establish causation as to each defendant. Given the court's causation findings in its statement of decision, it found that the District could not prevail on its claims. The Court of Appeal reversed in part as to: (1) District's cause of action against Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation under the OCWD Act; and (2) the declaration finding no liability in favor of Northrop. The Court of Appeal remanded for the trial court to reexamine the relevant evidence, receive such additional evidence as the court deemed necessary and appropriate, make new findings of fact and conclusions of law concerning the issues subject to reversal, and enter judgment accordingly. In all other respects, the judgment was affirmed.