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Kutak Rock Successfully Defends Crucible Materials Corp. in $200M Environmental Appeal

News | June 26, 2017

The law firm of Kutak Rock announces that it successfully defeated all claims of a $200 million appeal involving Crucible Materials Corp. (“Crucible”) in a case heard by the Court of Appeal for the State of California, Fourth Appellate District, Division One.

Crucible operated a steel manufacturing site in northern Orange County, California. In 2004 the Orange County Water District (“OCWD”) sued Crucible seeking cost recovery of cleanup expenses associated with the alleged contamination of a shallow aquifer in the North Basin area in Orange County.

The case proceeded to trial in 2015, and following a seven-month bench trial, Orange County Superior Court Judge Kim G. Dunning gave a statement of decision in which she found that none of the defendants had caused contamination to the shallow aquifer in the North Basin.

OCWD appealed the judgment claiming the trial court misinterpreted the legal requirements for OCWD’s claims under the Carpenter-Presley-Tanner Hazardous Substance Accountability Act (“HSAA”), the OCWD Act, and other issues, including that the court erred in granting declaratory relief in favor of the defendants.

Again facing exposure to a $200 million joint liability claim, Crucible engaged Jad Davis of Kutak Rock to handle the appeal. Davis’ experience includes representing clients in cost-recovery lawsuits alleging soil, water, and air contamination.

The Court of Appeal for the State of California, Fourth Appellate District, Division One affirmed the trial court’s statement of decision on all claims and stated that Crucible shall recover its defense costs.

Jad Davis, a partner in Kutak Rock’s Irvine and Los Angeles offices, represents clients in regulatory compliance and environmental matters under the federal Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, CERCLA, RCRA, California's Prop 65, Water Code and Hazardous Waste Control Law.