United States v. Dico, Inc., No. 14-2762 (8th Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
The government filed suit against Dico to recover damages for cleanup costs after Dico sold buildings to SIM, which were then torn down and stored in an open field where PCBs were later found. The government alleged that Dico violated the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), 42 U.S.C. 9607(a)(3), and the EPA order governing use of the buildings at issue. The district court found Dico liable for both violations. The court reversed and vacated the district court's summary judgment order holding Dico "arranged" for disposal of hazardous materials as a matter of law where the evidence does not demonstrate that Dico was merely trying to get rid of a hazardous substance. The fact that some parts from the buildings were worthless after disassembly does not necessarily transform a potentially legitimate sale of the buildings in which Dico would receive some commercial value into a ploy to simply get rid of the buildings just to dispose of the hazardous substance. The court vacated the district court's order with respect to any response costs associated with the issue of "arranger" liability. The court also reversed the award of punitive damages because the Fund did not incur any costs as a result of Dico's violation of the EPA Order. The court affirmed in all other respects.