15 ELR 20426 | Environmental Law Reporter | copyright © 1985 | All rights reserved

Roberts v. Picillo

No. 83-0787P (D.R.I. February 12, 1985)

Counsel for Plaintiff
Susan B. Squires, Ass't Attorney General
72 Pine St., Providence RI 02903
(401) 274-4400

Counsel for Defendant
John F. Dolan
Rice, Dolan & Kershaw
Suite 3-A, 101 Dyer St., Providence RI 02903
(401) 272-8800

[15 ELR 20426]

ELR Digest

The magistrate recommends that defendant's motion to dismiss be granted on the grounds that § 113(b) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) does not confer in personam jurisdiction over non-resident defendants who lack the minimum contacts required by the Due Process Clause. In an action brought by Rhode Island alleging that Rutgers University of New Jersey is liable for cleanup costs for hazardous waste found at the Picillo pig farm site in Rhode Island, the magistrate concludes that it lacks in personam jurisdiction over Rutgers, which lacks the necessary minimum contacts with Rhode Island. CERCLA § 113(b) provides the court with subject matter jurisdiction and venue, but not in personam jurisdiction.

The Rhode Island long-arm statute provides in personam jurisdiction to the full extent allowed by the constitutional standard, so the court turns to an analysis of Rutgers' contacts with Rhode Island. That it may have been foreseeable that the hazardous waste produced by Rutgers may have ended up at a Rhode Island site is not sufficient to confer jurisdiction. Rutgers could not have reasonably anticipated being hauled into a Rhode Island court when it contracted to have its chemical wastes disposed of by companies it determined were licensed to conduct such activities in New Jersey. In addition, jurisdiction cannot be based on the allegedly improper disposal of wastes by these companies in Rhode Island, as amenability to suit does not travel with chattel. Finally, Rutgers' other contacts with the state do not amount to the continuous and systematic contacts required for general jurisdiction.

The full text of this opinion is available from ELR (5 pp. $1.25, ELR Order No. C-1335).

15 ELR 20426 | Environmental Law Reporter | copyright © 1985 | All rights reserved