Duke Energy Florida, LLC v. FirstEnergy Corp.
- Summarized by Jason Stitt , Keating Muething & Klekamp PLL
- 5 years 1 month ago
- Case Type:
- Case Status:
- 17-3024 (6th Circuit, Apr 10,2018) Not Published
- A corporate parent may be held indirectly liable under CERCLA only if the corporate veil separating parent and subsidiary may be pierced under the corporate law of the relevant state. Because Florida law does not permit piercing the veil on the facts of this case, the Circuit Court affirmed the ruling of the District Court and did not permit piercing of the corporate veil.
- Procedural context:
- Duke Energy filed this CERCLA action seeking contribution and response costs from FirstEnergy in the Middle District of Florida in 2011. Lacking personal jurisdiction over the defendant, that court transferred the case to the Northern District of Ohio. The Ohio district court eventually dismissed the case as barred by the statute of limitations; a divided panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and remanded. Upon remand, the parties stipulated that there were no material disputes of fact and filed cross motions for summary judgment on liability. In ruling on the summary judgment motions, the district court declined to pierce the corporate veils of FirstEnergy's predecessors. Duke Energy Appealed
- This case is a dispute over who may be held liable for hazardous waste cleanup costs under CERCLA. The hazardous waste at issue was released by two manufactured gas plants in Florida between 1929 and 1943. The processes used at the time to create gas for home consumption inevitably released harmful byproducts, including coal tar, into the local environment, causing groundwater contamination. At the time the tar was released, two utility companies, Florida Public Service Company (FPSC) and Sanford Gas Company (Sanford) operated the plants. A large New York holding company, Associated Gas & Electric Company (AGECO), owned the controlling interest in both companies through its subsidiaries. Plaintiff-Appellant Duke Energy is the admitted corporate successor to FPSC and Sanford; Defendant-Appellee FirstEnergy is the stipulated corporate successor to AGECO.
Beginning in 1998, Duke Energy and other previous owners of the gas plant sites entered into a series of agreements with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to conduct remediation at the sites and reimburse the EPA for response costs it had incurred. Duke Energy asserts that FirstEnergy, as AGECO’s corporate successor, should be required to contribute to the cleanup costs based on the theory of indirect liability.
- KEITH, McKEAGUE, and STRANCH, Circuit Judges.
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