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Columbia Falls Aluminum Co., LLC v. Atlantic Richfield Co.

United States District Court, D. Montana, Missoula Division

August 21, 2019

COLUMBIA FALLS ALUMINUM COMPANY, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
ATLANTIC RICHFIELD COMPANY, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Donald W. Molloy, District Judge

         This action arises out of a dispute between Plaintiff Columbia Falls Aluminum Company, LLC ("CFAC") and Defendant Atlantic Richfield Company ("Arco") over the parties' respective environmental liabilities at an aluminum smelter in Columbia Falls, Montana ("the Site"). CFAC sued under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act ("CERCLA") and its state analog (the Montana Comprehensive Environmental Cleanup and Responsibility Act, or "CECRA"), seeking cost recovery and contribution for its liability as the current owner and operator of the Site. (Compl., Doc. 1.) Arco counterclaimed, (Doc. 23), and filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, (Doc. 33). That motion was denied. (Doc. 49.) Arco now seeks to compel responses to its First Set of Requests for Admission, Interrogatories, and Requests for Production by August 31, 2019. (Doc. 51.) That motion is granted.

         Background

         On May 3, 2019, Arco served its first discovery request on CFAC, which asked that CFAC respond and produce documents within thirty days. (See Ex. 1, Doc. 51-1.) CFAC responded on June 3, 2019, objecting to a number of Arco's interrogatories and production requests. (See Ex. 2, Doc. 51-2.) CFAC's response also includes eight pages of "General Objections." (Id.) On June 14, 2019, Arco sent a letter to CFAC, identifying what it believed to be inadequacies in CFAC's response. (See Ex. 3, Doc. 51-3.) CFAC responded to that letter on June 21, (see Ex. 4, Doc. 51-4), and then disclosed approximately twelve thousand documents to Arco at the end of June, (see Exs. 5, 6, Docs. 51-5, 51-6).

         At issue here are eight interrogatories, Nos. 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11; and one request for production, No. 19. Request No. 19 states: "Produce all of your [CFAC's] tax returns dating back to 2012." (Doc. 51-1 at 18.) The individual interrogatories state as follows:

[No. 3:] Describe your placement and management of waste generated in connection with operations at the Site in or around Disposal areas including but not limited to Landfills and/or Ponds, including identification of the types of waste placed at each Landfill, Pond, or other Disposal area, the amount of waste placed in each Landfill, Pond, or other Disposal area, and the date(s) such waste was placed in each Landfill, Pond, or other Disposal area.
[No. 4:] Describe Releases occurring during your ownership of the Site of Hazardous Materials and/or Hazardous Substances at, from, or around the Landfills, Ponds, Paste Plant, and/or Raw Materials Loading and Unloading Area at the Site, including identification of the types of Hazardous Materials and/or Hazardous Substances that were released in each area, the amount of each Release, and the date of each Release.
[No. 5:] Describe your arrangements for the Disposal of wastes generated in connection with operations at the Site to offsite locations, including identification of the type and quantification of the amount of wastes Disposed of in this manner, and identification of all persons, organizations, or entities with whom you arranged for the Disposal of such waste.
[No. 7:] Describe all "response costs" that you allege in paragraphs 74 and 119 of the Complaint you have incurred in response to Releases of Hazardous Materials or Hazardous Substances at or from the Site, including the nature of the activity(ies) underlying each cost and the Release(s) each such activity was intended to address.
[No. 8:] Describe all actions you have taken or caused to be taken to prevent or mitigate the effects of alleged releases of Hazardous Materials or Hazardous Substances from the Site, including but not limited to the nature, date(s), and status of those actions.
[No. 9:] Describe all Remedial Action or other remediation of Environmental Conditions at the Site that you have performed or caused to be performed, or that you will perform or cause to be performed in 2019 or 2020, including but not limited to the nature, location(s), and date(s) of such remediation, the person(s) or firm(s) doing such work.
[No. 10:] If you contend that you are not responsible for any elevated cyanide or fluoride concentrations in soil, groundwater, or surface water at the Site, state the basis for that contention and identify all persons with knowledge relating to that contention.
[No. 11:] Describe your use, management, and maintenance of the Cedar Creek Drainage Overflow Ditch, including any efforts by you to manage water conveyed by or retained in the Cedar Creek Drainage Overflow Ditch, and including but not limited to identification of all persons with knowledge of such use and management.

(See generally id.)

         Legal ...


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