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Dry-Cleaning Machine Manufacturer Not Liable Under CERCLA

The United States District Court for the Northern District of California recently held that the manufacturer of a dry-cleaning machine was not liable under an "arranger" theory of liability pursuant to Section 107(a) of CERCLA. Multimac was the manufacturer of a dry-cleaning machine that produced wastewater containing perchlorethylene (PCE). The instruction manual directed the operator to dispose of wastewater down the floor drain. Multimac was subsequently sued by the owner of a dry cleaner that had purchased a Multimac dry-cleaning machine and later incurred response costs to address PCE contamination on its property. In dismissing the CERCLA claim, the court found that the dry cleaner had failed to demonstrate that Multimac had the requisite intent to dispose of hazardous substances. The court also rejected the argument that Multimac exercised control over the disposal process through its instruction manual, which the court stated as akin to a "recommendation." The complete opinion of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California in KFD Enterprises, Inc. v. City of Eureka is available here.