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City of West Sacramento v. R and L Business Management

United States District Court, E.D. California

October 28, 2019

CITY OF WEST SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA; and PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA, Plaintiffs,
v.
R AND L BUSINESS MANAGEMENT, a California corporation, f/k/a STOCKTON PLATING, INC., d/b/a CAPITOL PLATING, INC., a/k/a CAPITOL PLATING, a/k/a CAPITAL PLATING; CAPITOL PLATING, INC., a dissolved California corporation; et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER RE: MOTION TO DISMISS R&L BUSINESS MANAGEMENT'S THIRD-PARTY COMPLAINT

          WILLIAM B. SHUBB UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         The City of West Sacramento, California (“the City”) and the People of the State of California filed suit to address toxic levels of soil and groundwater contamination in the environment within the City. Defendants R&L Business Management and John Clark (collectively referred to as “R&L”) subsequently brought the County of Yolo into the action as a third party to the City's lawsuit. R&L seeks contribution should R&L be found liable in the City's lawsuit. Before the court is the County of Yolo's (“the County”) Motion to Dismiss Defendant R&L's Third-Party Complaint. (Docket No. 100.)

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         A. The City's Lawsuit

         The City's lawsuit against R&L involves the alleged contamination at 319 3rd Street. This court described much of the factual and procedural background to this lawsuit in its prior orders. (See Docket Nos. 18, 33, 44 & 63.) The Third Amended Complaint (“TAC”) is the current operative complaint. (Docket No. 45.)

         B. R&L's Third-Party Complaint

         R&L's Third-Party Complaint (“TPC”) against the County (Docket No. 90.) involves the alleged contamination at 305 3rd Street, a property two parcels north of the 319 property at issue in the City's complaint. (Pl.'s Mot. to Dismiss (Docket No. 100).) The TPC relies primarily on an Environmental Site Assessment prepared by Wallace Kuhl & Associates in 2006. (TPC at 3, ¶ 14.) The TPC alleges that “historical surface fill material containing heavy metals and a substantial amount of lead was placed and maintained at and around [305 Third Street and 317 Third Street], during Yolo County's ownership of 305 Third Street.” (Id. at 4, ¶ 17. (Docket No. 90).) “As a direct result of the historic operations and importing of soils, ” the TPC continues, the two properties “contained fill and native soils that tested for high concentration of levels of heavy materials.” (Id. at 5, ¶ 30.) The TPC also alleges that “lead and other toxic chemicals were discharged onto and into the soil beneath” the 305 and 317 properties. (Id. at 4, ¶ 23.) The chemicals thereafter allegedly “contributed to the contamination of the soil and groundwater.” (Id. at 4, ¶ 24.)

         Because Yolo County has not “engaged in any remedial measures, ” the contamination allegedly continues “to spread and become worse.” (Id. at 5-6, ¶ 33; see also Id. at 4, ¶ 23 (“Absent any remedial activity, that surface contamination will continue to spread and potentially leach into groundwater.”).) Notably, however, R&L's Third-Party Complaint does not allege that the contamination at 305 3rd Street is the same contamination as that at 319 3rd Street.

         The TPC alleges four causes of action: (1) contribution under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (“CERCLA”), 42 U.S.C. § 9613(f)(1); (2) equitable indemnity; (3) equitable contribution; and (4) declaratory relief under the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201.[1] The County now moves to dismiss all claims.

         II. Legal Standard

         On a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the inquiry before the court is whether, accepting the factual allegations in the complaint as true and drawing all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor, the plaintiff has stated a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Legal conclusions “must be supported by factual allegations.” Id. at 679. Pleadings that “are no more than conclusions . . . are not entitled to the assumption of truth.” Id.

         III. Discussion

         A. CERCLA Claim

         R&L brings a claim for contribution against the County under Section 113(f)(1) of CERCLA. See 42 U.S.C. § 9613(f)(1). Section 113(f)(1) allows a party to “seek contribution from any other person who is liable or potentially liable under Section 107(a), during or following any civil action under section 106 of this title or under section 107(a) of this title.” Id. A party may assert a contribution claim only “during or following” a civil action under § 106 or §107(a) to which they are a party. Cooper Indus., Inc. v. ...


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