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Appeals court slashes contamination award from $154,632 to $7,383

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Court-ordered environmental damages caused by PCB contamination at a Churubusco industrial site were reduced from a total of $154,632 to $7,383 on Thursday by a panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals.

In Dana Companies, LLC v. Chaffee Rentals, a/k/a, Chaffee Rentals and Storage, BRC Rubber Group, Inc., Charles V. Chaffee, Karen J. Chaffee and Clifford Chaffee,  92A03-1208-CC-358, Chaffee and BRC appealed a ruling in Whitley Circuit Court that BRC owed the six-figure sum to Dana Companies, which had caused the PCB pollution during Dana’s ownership of the site it operated from the 1960s to the mid-1980s as a car-parts manufacturing site. Dana also appealed.

Dana sold the property to Chaffee Rentals in the 1980s, which rented it to BRC, a maker of rubber parts for cars. As the site came under the purview of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management for the cleanup of PCBs left from Dana’s operation of the site, the parties in the 1990s executed a settlement agreement. Judge Rudy R. Pyle III wrote that the agreement continues to govern.

Pyle wrote that the trial court correctly ruled that the doctrine of fortuity didn’t apply and that BCR didn’t breach its contract, rejecting Dana’s appellate arguments. The court found that BRC was responsible only for non-PCB contamination found in an area of the site that it solely operated.

 “Of all the areas investigated and remediated ... the trash burning area ... was the only area of the plant used solely by BRC; Dana never used this area during the time it operated the plant. Confining recovery of damages to the settlement agreement, and effecting the intent of the parties as stated therein, BRC should hold Dana harmless for these costs,” Pyle wrote for the panel.

“We find that the trial court erred by not confining its allocation of costs to the four corners of the settlement agreement. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court’s award of damages to Dana, but reverse the amount awarded. Dana is entitled to damages of $3,608.87 in investigative costs and administrative costs of $1,818.01, for a total damage award of $5,426.88,” Pyle wrote.

Prejudgment interest in the sum of $1,956.32 also was ordered, bringing the total to $7,383.20.

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  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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