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Module V – Corporate Externalities. Chapter 13 Corporate Environmental Liability. Bar exam. Corporate practice. Law profession. Corporation as polluter Respondeat superior liability But pollution pays! CERCLA liability (beyond corporate polluter) Parent corporation liability

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Chapter 13 corporate environmental liability

Module V – Corporate Externalities

Chapter 13Corporate Environmental Liability

Bar

exam

Corporate practice

Law profession

Corporation as polluter

Respondeat superior liability

But pollution pays!

CERCLA liability (beyond corporate polluter)

Parent corporation liability

(1) owner: only under PCV (derivative liability)

(2) operator: manage polluting facilities (direct liability)

Factors in direct liability: parent personnel ~ polluting facility

(1) dual officers/directors not enough

(2) beyond “norms” of parental oversight

Corporate officers’ liability

Criminal (environmental statutes): no convictions!

Civil: beyond normal PCV

Citizen of world

Chapter 13

Corporate Environmental Liability


When is corporation liable as polluter

When is corporationliable as polluter?

Civil liability

Criminal liability

Does pollution pay?

Chapter 13

Corporate Environmental Liability


United states v bestfoods us 1998

  • Superfund?

    • How funded?

    • Who liable? Why BF?

  • Rules on parent liability?

    • Overlapping managers?

    • Supervision of environ compliance?

  • CERCLA policy?

    • “owner” liability?

    • “operator” liability?

United States v. Bestfoods (US 1998)

Chapter 13

Corporate Environmental Liability


Chapter 13 corporate environmental liability

CERCLA § 107(a)(1)

Any person who at the time of disposal of any hazardous substance owned or operated any facility at which such hazardous substances were disposed of shall be liable for all costs of removal or remedial action incurred by the United States Government or a State.

Chapter 13

Corporate Environmental Liability


Justice david souter
Justice David Souter

Nothing in CERCLA purports to reject this bedrock principle of corporate law: parent is not liable for acts of subsidiary. … Only when the corporate veil may be pierced may parent face derivativeliability.

Under CERCLA “operator” [direct liability] must manage, direct or conduct operations specifically related pollution…. Analysis of relationship between CPC and Muskegon facility. Common D/Os acting in their capacities as CPC D/Os – beyond “normal relationship.”


Chapter 13 corporate environmental liability

Direct liability

Parent

Gov’t regulator

“operator”

PCV

Derivative liability

Subsidiary

“owner/operator”

Chapter 13

Corporate Environmental Liability


Chapter 13 corporate environmental liability

Unanswered questions:

Derivative liability: Why does Supreme Court adopt “state” PCV standards – isn’t CERCLA federal law?

Which state: If federal “derivative liability” standards depend on state law, which state?

Direct liability: Compare to PCV - different? “Corporate form misused” vs. “beyond norms of parental influence”?

Reward laxity: Which parent corporation is better off – one that oversees its sub’s polluting activities or not?

Corporate awe: Why is the Supreme Court so in awe of state-based corporate limited liability – “bedrock principle”?

Chapter 13

Corporate Environmental Liability


Data on pcv in environmental cases
Data on PCV in environmental cases …

Chapter 13

Corporate Environmental Liability


Data on pcv in environmental cases1
Data on PCV in environmental cases …

Chapter 13

Corporate Environmental Liability


Chapter 13 corporate environmental liability

  • More questions:

  • Special PCV: Should there be different piercing standards in environmental cases?

  • Officer civil liability: why should “could have prevented” be the standard? Too lax?

  • Officer criminal liability: if statutes specifically contemplate this, why no convictions?

Chapter 13

Corporate Environmental Liability


Chapter 13 corporate environmental liability

Direct liability

Parent

Gov’t regulator

“operator”

PCV

Derivative liability

Subsidiary

“owner/operator”

Corporations:

A Contemporary Approach

Chapter 13

Corporate Environmental Liability

Slide 11

of 10


Chapter 13 corporate environmental liability

Unanswered questions:

Derivative liability: Why does Supreme Court adopt “state” PCV standards – isn’t CERCLA federal law?

Which state: If federal “derivative liability” standards depend on state law, which state?

Direct liability: Compare to PCV - different? “Corporate form misused” vs. “beyond norms of parental influence”?

Reward laxity: Which parent corporation is better off – one that oversees its sub’s polluting activities or not?

Corporate awe: Why is the Supreme Court so in awe of state-based corporate limited liability – “bedrock principle”?

Corporations:

A Contemporary Approach

Chapter 13

Corporate Environmental Liability

Slide 12

of 10


Chapter 13 corporate environmental liability

:A terrible hypothetical

Chapter 13

Corporate Environmental Liability


Bp oil spill victim compensation fund

BP plc

BP Oil Spill Victim Compensation Fund *

BP America Inc

BP Corp North Am

BP Co. North Am

BP Am Production

BP Exploration, Inc

Chapter 13

Corporate Environmental Liability


Chapter 13 corporate environmental liability

You are the general counsel of GlobalPetroleum.

There’s been a terrible accident. An oil rig leased to GP North America -- a company in the GP group -- has gone down in flames with loss of life, and the uncapped underwater well is spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico. It may become the biggest man-made oil spill in history.

It turns out the rig was actually operated not by GP, but its wholly-owned US sub, GP Exploration – which held the lease to the offshore oil field. And liability of GP Exploration (as “holder” of the offshore mineral rights) is capped under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 at removal costs plus $75 million in environmental damages, unless there was “gross negligence.” [See Act]

The GP board has met in emergency session. You have been asked to address GP’s liability. What do you advise the board?

Chapter 13

Corporate Environmental Liability


Chapter 13 corporate environmental liability

  • OIL POLLUTION ACT OF 1990

  • SEC. 1001. DEFINITIONS.

  • (27) ‘‘person’’ means an individual, corporation, …

  • (32) ‘‘responsible party’’ means the following: …

    • (C) OFFSHORE FACILITIES.—In the case of an offshore facility … the lessee or permittee of the area in which the facility is located or the holder of a right of use and easement granted under applicable State law or the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act….

  • SEC. 1002. ELEMENTS OF LIABILITY.

  • IN GENERAL.—Notwithstanding any other provision or rule of law, … each responsible party for … a facility from which oil is discharged .. into or upon the navigable waters … is liable for the removal costs and damages specified in subsection (b) that result from such incident. …

  • SEC. 1004. LIMITS ON LIABILITY.

  • GENERAL RULE.—Except as otherwise provided in this section, the total of the liability of a responsible party under section 1002 … with respect to each incident shall not exceed—

  • … (3) for an offshore facility …, the total of all removal costs plus $75,000,000 …

  • (c) EXCEPTIONS.—

    • (1) … Subsection (a) does not apply if the incident was proximately caused by—

      • (A) gross negligence or willful misconduct of, or

      • (B) the violation of an applicable Federal safety, construction, or operating regulation by, the responsible party, an agent or employee of the responsible party ….

Chapter 13

Corporate Environmental Liability


The end

The end

Chapter 13

Corporate Environmental Liability