Madison - St. Clair Record

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Companies seek to dismiss contamination lawsuit for lack of jurisdiction, exceeding statute of limitations

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Aug 30, 2016

General court 4

Companies accused of contaminating a man’s property seek to dismiss the suit for exceeding the time allowed under the statute of limitations and lack of jurisdiction.

Brent Bauer filed his complaint on May 27 against Phillips 66 Company, Phillips 66 Partners Holdings LLC, Phillips 66 Partners LP, Phillips 66 Carrier LLC, Phillips 66 Pipeline LLC, Buckeye Partners L.P., Buckeye Pipe Line Services Company, Buckeye Terminals LLC, Cenovus Energy US LLC, Hartford Wood River Terminal LLC and HWRD Oil Company LLC.

According to the complaint, Bauer alleges that between May 2014 and August 2014 he sustained damages to his property causing its value to be greatly depreciated.

He claims the defendants allegedly failed to properly process, refine, store and release toxic chemicals and other by-products, resulting in contamination of his property.

Buckeye Partners, Buckeye Pipeline Services and Buckeye Terminals answered the complaint on July 20 through attorneys Clark Cole and Matthew Reh of Armstrong Teasdale in St. Louis.

They argue in their affirmative defenses that Bauer’s claims are barred by the statute of limitations because he failed to file his complaint within five years of any alleged negligent act or omission was discovered. They argue the plaintiff knew of possible damages in 2004.  

They further claim that any alleged injury was caused by the negligence of a third party with which the defendants had no control.

Bauer responded to the affirmative defenses on July 26 through attorneys R. Seth Crompton and Eric D. Holland of Holland Law Firm in St. Louis. He denied each and every allegation against him.

All Phillips 66 defendants filed a combined motion to dismiss the complaint on July 12 through attorneys Edward Dwyer, Melissa Brown and David Bays of HeplerBroom in Edwardsville.

They argue that the plaintiff’s claims are barred by the statutes of limitations. They allege the plaintiff knew or should have known that his property may have been damaged on Jan. 22, 2004, when he was made aware of potential pollution.

“Plaintiff had a duty to further investigate the potential injury to his property and whether it was wrongfully caused,” the motion states.

However, the plaintiff didn’t file the complaint until May 27, 2016, which is beyond the time permitted under the statute of limitations.

Cenovus Energy filed a motion to dismiss the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction on July 15 through attorneys Timothy Richards and Derek Siegel of Neville Richards & Wuller in Belleville.

The defendant argues it is not subject to specific jurisdiction because it did not purposefully direct its activities in Illinois and the cause of action did not arise out of its contacts with Illinois.

Cenovus Energy is a Delaware company with its principal place of business in Houston.

The defendant further argues that it was never involved in any of the transactions alleged in the complaint. It claims it never had any ownership rights or business activities at the Hartford Terminal and never processed or manufactured pollutants.

Cenovus Energy also argues that it is not subject to general jurisdiction because there are no facts establishing that the defendant is “at home” in Illinois.

Madison County Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth scheduled a motion hearing for Sept. 30 at 9 a.m.

Bauer seeks a judgment in excess of $50,000, interest, court costs, equitable and injunctive relief and any other relief the court deems just.

Bauer is represented by R. Seth Crompton and Eric Holland of Holland Law Firm in St. Louis and Ann Callis of Goldenberg Heller & Antognoli in Edwardsville.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 16-L-728

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Organizations in this Story

Neville, Richards & WullerGoldenberg Heller Antognoli & RowlandHeplerBroomThe Holland Law Firm - St LouisArmstrong Teasdale