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Magistrate: Uniroyal not liable for cleanup costs

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As a federal magistrate judge puts it, "All good things must come to an end."

That is the beginning line of U.S. Magistrate Judge Christopher Nuechterlein's order issued Thursday in City of Mishawaka v. Uniroyal Holding, No. 3:04-CV-125, which finds the liability holding company with the tire maker's name isn't legally obligated to pay for environmental cleanup expenses at a site its corporate predecessors have occupied since 1874.

The magistrate judge's 14-page order is part of a 5-year-old case involving a long history of corporate ownership changes and who should ultimately be responsible for paying Mishawaka's cleanup costs related to the 43 acres at 312 N. Hill St.

Originally, the site was a rubber company purchased in the 1920s and manufacturing operations happened there for 75 years. The name changed to Uniroyal in the 1980s and a subsidiary holding company was created. Agreements detailed liability through the years through corporate ownership changes, but the holding company remained.

The Environmental Protection Agency had removed hazardous substances from the site in 1998 and the city claimed it spent more than $3.5 million in subsequent cleanup costs. A settlement resulted in the holding company paying about $50,000 to the city, but Uniroyal denied it was liable for the entire amount because of the ownership agreements and changes through the years. The court ultimately agreed based on insufficient proof and arguments from Mishawaka, and express language contained in restructuring plans.

"Other than pointing to two persons exercising control over both entities (Uniroyal's manufacturing operations and Uniroyal Holding), Mishawaka has failed to show how Uniroyal Holding can reasonably be seen as maintaining the same essential characteristics of Uniroyal," he wrote, granting the company's motion for summary judgment. "As such, this Court concludes that Mishawaka has not established that Uniroyal Holding is responsible for the site, based either on the legal theories argued or on the equitable theory of successor liability."

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  1. Just an aside, but regardless of the outcome, I 'm proud of Judge William Hughes. He was the original magistrate on the Home place issue. He ruled for Home Place, and was primaried by Brainard for it. Their tool Poindexter failed to unseat Hughes, who won support for his honesty and courage throughout the county, and he was reelected Judge of Hamilton County's Superior Court. You can still stand for something and survive. Thanks, Judge Hughes!

  2. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  3. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  4. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  5. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

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