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7th Circuit affirms rulings for EPA in Bloomington PCB cleanup

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Thursday turned away a citizen-led appeal of rulings favorable to the Environmental Protection Agency in an ongoing cleanup of a former Westinghouse Electric Corp. plant that polluted the Bloomington site with toxic PCBs.

The court affirmed rulings by U.S. District Chief Judge Richard Young of the Southern District of Indiana. Young granted summary judgment in favor of EPA and also rejected a motion that he disqualify himself based on prior rulings.

“The district court correctly granted summary judgment to the EPA on plaintiffs’ claims regarding the first remedial stage. Plaintiffs also are not prevailing parties on their claim that the EPA and its administrator were required to have the court enter agreements between parties as consent decrees,” Circuit Judge David Hamilton wrote in Sarah E. Frey, Kevin Enright and Protect Our Woods Inc. v. Environmental Protection Agency and Gina McCarthy, Administrator, 13-2142.

“Finally, Chief Judge Young was not required to recuse himself, and his denial of the motion to disqualify did not violate plaintiffs’ right to due process of law,” Hamilton wrote.

The appeal is the latest in a long line of cases involving the former Westinghouse plant that also operated under the CBS name. It manufactured capacitors from the 1950s to 1970s that contained polychlorinated biphenyls regulated under the Toxic Substances Control Act, and a consent decree on cleanup of multiple polluted sites in Bloomington has been in place since 1985.

Young correctly found plaintiffs’ motions were moot because the cleanup is ongoing or because plaintiffs are not prevailing parties or parties to the original consent decree, and as such they also are not entitled to attorney fees.

“Simply put, there is no reason the district judge should have recused himself from this case,” Hamilton wrote. “His decision not to do so did not deny plaintiffs due process of law. … “The judgment of the district court dismissing this action is affirmed in all respects.”

 

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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