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Arkema Inc. v. Ammin Holdings Inc..

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

June 28, 2013



DAVID R. HERNDON, Chief District Judge.

I. Introduction

Now before the Court is defendant Ammin Holdings, Inc.'s motion to dismiss all counts of plaintiffs Arkema Inc. and Ozark-Mahoning Companys' complaint pursuant to FEDERAL RULE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 12(b)(6) (Doc. 17). As Arkema Inc. and Ozark-Mahoning Company have responded in opposition (Doc. 38) and provided a supplemental response (Doc. 57), this dispute is ripe for judicial resolution. Based on the following, the Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part the motion (Doc. 17).

II. Background

Prior to this filing of the instant action, plaintiffs Arkema Inc. and Ozark-Mahoning Company (collectively, plaintiffs) were defendants in an action before this Court brought by the State of Illinois, pursuant to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), 42 U.S.C. § 9601, et seq., the Illinois Environmental Protection Act, 45 ILCS 5/1, et seq., and Illinois common law. See State ex rel. Madigan v. Alcoa Inc., et al., 09-cv-392-DRH-PMF (S.D. Ill. 2009). The State of Illinois sought past and future response costs, declaratory relief, and injunctive relief incurred from the release or threatened release of hazardous substances arising from the mining and milling operations in and around Rosiclare, Hardin County, Illinois (09-cv-392, Doc. 3). Every defendant, including plaintiffs herein, entered into a consent decree requiring them to perform certain remedial investigations and feasibility studies of certain areas of concerns (AOC) and perform additional removal actions with respect to AOC1 (Doc. 2, p. 2). This Court approved the consent decree on September 24, 2009 (09-cv-392, Doc. 18).

Thereafter, on September 21, 2012, plaintiffs filed the three count complaint currently before the Court (Doc. 2). The complaint seeks cost recovery and contribution resulting from the release or threatened release of hazardous substances at the "Rosiclare Site in Rosiclare, Hardin County, Illinois (the Site'), " pursuant to CERCLA (Doc. 2, p. 1). Thus, plaintiffs bring Count I for recovery of response costs under CERCLA § 107(a), Count II for contribution under CERCLA § 113(f), and finally Count III for a declaratory judgment under CERCLA § 113(g)(2).

Initially, plaintiffs brought all three counts against the following defendants: Arcelormittal USA Inc., Rosiclare Lead and Fluorspar Mining Company, ON Marine Services Company LLC, the Estate of Jack L. Quarant, Ammin Holdings, Inc. (Ammin), and Prince Minerals, Inc. However, since the filing on their complaint, plaintiffs and all defendants, except Ammin, have finalized settlements and the settling defendants have been dismissed from this action with prejudice (Doc. 85). Accordingly, Ammin's motion to dismiss all counts of plaintiffs' complaint is the only motion pending before the Court (Doc. 17).[1]

III. Legal Standard

A Rule 12(b)(6) motion challenges the sufficiency of the complaint to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Hallinan v. Fraternal Order of Police Chicago Lodge 7, 570 F.3d 811, 820 (7th Cir. 2009). The Supreme Court explained in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007), that Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal is warranted if the complaint fails to set forth "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face."

In making this assessment, the district court accepts as true all well-pled factual allegations and draws all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. See Rujawitz v. Martin, 561 F.3d 685, 688 (7th Cir. 2009); St. John's United Church of Christ v. City of Chicago, 502 F.3d 616, 625 (7th Cir. 2007).

Even though Twombly (and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009)) retooled federal pleading standards, notice pleading remains all that is required in a complaint. "A plaintiff still must provide only enough detail to give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests and, through his allegations, show that it is plausible, rather than merely speculative, that he is entitled to relief.'" Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1083 (7th Cir. 2008). The level of detail the complaint must furnish can differ depending on the type of case before the Court. So for instance, a complaint involving complex litigation (antitrust or RICO claims) may need a "fuller set of factual allegations... to show that relief is plausible." Id. at 1083 (citing Limestone Dev. Corp. v. Village of Lemont, Illinois, 520 F.3d 797, 803-04 (7th Cir. 2008)).

The Seventh Circuit has offered further direction on what (post- Twombly & Iqbal ) a complaint must do to withstand dismissal for failure to state a claim. In Pugh v. Tribune Co., 521 F.3d 686, 699 (7th Cir. 2008), the Court reiterated: "surviving a Rule 12(b)(6) motion requires more than labels and conclusions;" the allegations must "raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Similarly, the Court remarked in Swanson v. Citibank, N.A., 614 F.3d 400, 403 (7th Cir. 2010): "It is by now well established that a plaintiff must do better than putting a few words on paper that, in the hands of an imaginative reader, might suggest that something has happened to her that might be redressed by the law."

Judge Posner explained that Twombly and Iqbal:

require that a complaint be dismissed if the allegations do not state a plausible claim. The Court explained in Iqbal that "the plausibility standard is not akin to a probability requirement, ' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id. at 1949. This is ...

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