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JUDGE ORDERS HOMEOWNER PROTECTION IN RAYMARK LAWSUITS
Release Date: 03/14/1997
Contact Information: Michael Jasinski, Raymark Team Leader, (617) 573-5786 Michael Hill, Raymark Project Manager (617) 573-9653 Jim Murphy, Community Involvement, (617) 918-1028 Murphy.Jim@epamail.epa.gov
Boston -- United States District Court Judge Dominic J. Squatrito yesterday in Hartford orally ordered a stay of Raymark Industries, Inc.'s third party lawsuits against residential, municipal, and commercial property owners in the town of Stratford through July 31, 1997. The stay was ordered in response to a request made by the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and a request made by the Connecticut Attorney General's office on behalf of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection. The property owners, whose land has been contaminated by Raymark's hazardous waste, are being sued by Raymark. Raymark seeks to have the residential and other owners held liable for payment of the multi-million dollar cleanup costs related to the Raymark Industries, Inc. Superfund Site.
After hearing arguments for two hours on the governments' request, Judge Squatrito orally ordered an immediate stay to put the third party lawsuits on hold. The oral order was effective immediately. The Court requested the named third party defendants be notified as soon as possible so that homeowners would not begin to incur any unnecessary litigation costs.
"Raymark's bid to hold Stratford homeowners hostage in the company's dispute with the federal and state governments has, thankfully, been temporarily thwarted by Judge Squatrito's action," said John P. DeVillars, administrator of EPA's New England office. "This stay rescues homeowners from having to needlessly spend a tremendous amount of time, money, and effort to defend themselves against this legal assault by Raymark. The EPA and Department of Justice have already begun to take the necessary steps to provide the much deserved peace of mind to these homeowners. The Superfund process is designed to make polluters pay and not to allow them to pass the buck to innocent citizens."
The stay ordered by the Court will allow the government the opportunity to enter into legal settlements where the homeowners receive "contribution protection." The stay, in effect through July 31, 1997, will provide an adequate opportunity for the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Justice, the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and the Connecticut Attorney General's Office to meet with the Stratford homeowners named in the Raymark third party lawsuits and to negotiate these agreements regarding contribution protection.
In early January, the United States and the state of Connecticut sued Raymark Industries, Inc. for past and future cleanup costs at the Raymark Industries, Inc. Superfund Site in Stratford, Connecticut, estimated by EPA to total over $192 million. On February 27, 1997, Raymark filed Third Party Complaints which claim that the owners of the property that received the company's contaminated fill material share the liability for the cost of the cleanup. The United States and the state of Connecticut, calling the Raymark action "harassment," responded immediately on Friday, February 28, by requesting a stay of the third party lawsuits which was ordered yesterday in Hartford by the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut