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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. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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