R.R. Street prevails in Modesto case

Ian P. Murphy |

SAN FRANCISCO — Attorneys from Houston-based Hicks Thomas LLP announced a trial judge’s ruling issued Friday in favor of Naperville, Ill.-based R.R. Street & Co. Inc. in an environmental contamination lawsuit filed by the City of Modesto, Calif., and a related local agency.
The City of Modesto and its redevelopment agency originally sued R.R. Street, Dow Chemical Co., PPG Industries and others in 1998, based on claims that the companies improperly distributed perchloroethylene that allegedly contaminated soil and groundwater. Attorneys for Modesto’s redevelopment agency claimed that multiple sites in the city’s downtown area were contaminated with perc, and sought a ruling that would require the defendants to pay for cleanup.
Following a three-week bench trial last October, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ernest H. Goldsmith issued a decision finding that the agency “has not shown that any of the three defendants is a responsible party” under the Polanco Redevelopment Act.
The March 26, 2010, ruling in City of Modesto et al. v. The Dow Chemical Co. et al found that the agency “failed to prove that [Street] published improper PCE-disposal instructions or that the company’s representatives discharged [perc] at the sites. Therefore, Street is not a responsible party under the Act.”
“R.R. Street has always worked with the highest standards for safety,” says John Thomas, partner in Hicks Thomas and lead counsel for R.R. Street. “We are pleased Judge Goldsmith carefully reviewed the facts in this case and found no wrongdoing by our client.”
The City of Modesto won a $3 million verdict in the long-running case involving the contamination of city water at four sites in 2006; some other defendants settled with the city. Beginning in 2008, the city sought an additional $140 million to pay for the cleanup of alleged contamination at more than 25 additional sites; R.R. Street has since received favorable court rulings and a take-nothing verdict that exonerates the company of liability.

About the author

Ian P. Murphy

Freelance Writer

Ian P. Murphy is a freelance writer based in Chicago, and was the editor of American Drycleaner from 1999 to 2011.

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