New York State Elec. & Gas v. FirstEnergy Corp., No. 11-4143 (2d Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
NYSEG filed suit against FirstEnergy under section 107(a) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), 42 U.S.C. 9601 et seq., to recover certain costs incurred in remediating coal tar contamination at certain of NYSEG's manufactured gas plants in upstate New York. NYSEG contends that FirstEnergy is liable as the successor to NYSEG's former parent company, AGECO, for a portion of the cleanup costs. FirstEnergy filed counterclaims against NYSEG and third-party claims against I.D. Booth, the current owner of one of the sites, for cost contribution under section 113(f). The district court held that NYSEG was entitled to recover certain cleanup costs from FirstEnergy based on a veil piercing theory, but limiting that recovery to certain sites. The district court also found I.D. Booth liable for a portion of the cleanup costs at one site. The court held that NYSEG's CERCLA claims against FirstEnergy are not barred by the covenant not to sue; AGECO is not directly liable under CERCLA as an operator; FirstEnergy is liable to NYSEG on a veil piercing theory based on AGECO's control of NYSEG from 1922 to January 10, 1940, but not for contamination created by other AGECO subsidiaries before those subsidiaries merged into NYSEG; NYSEG's claims as to the (a) Plattsburgh site are timely, (b) Norwich site are untimely, and (c) Oswego site are untimely; the district court did not err in calculating total gas production at the sites; the district court did not abuse its discretion in reducing NYSEG's recovery from FirstEnergy by a portion of NYSEG's $20 million insurance settlement; the district court did not abuse its discretion in declining to reduce NYSEG's recovery to reflect the increased value of the remediated properties or NYSEG's alleged delay in the remedial efforts; and I.D. Booth is liable for a portion of cleanup costs and the district court did not abuse its discretion in apportioning liability in this respect. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for further proceedings.