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Environmental Law360: Occidental Must Pay Haynes and Boone Client El Paso Tennessee Pipeline Co.
03/08/2011

Environmental Law360 noted that a federal judge has ruled Occidental Chemical Corp. must pay Haynes and Boone, LLP client El Paso Tennessee Pipeline Co. nearly $2 million to cover cleanup costs and interest in a battle over the Turtle Bayou Superfund site in Liberty County, Texas.

Judge Marcia A. Crone of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas signed off on an amended final judgment that said Occidental was on the hook for more than $1.7 million for El Paso's past costs and expenses, as well as more than $268,000 in prejudgment interest through January 10.

The judgment also said Occidental had to pay El Paso prejudgment interest, at a rate yet to be determined, for the period from January 11 through March 1, and post-judgment interest from March 2 until the tab is paid. Occidental is also responsible for a share of future remediation costs associated with the site, the judgment said.

Back on January 11, Judge Crone found that Occidental owed El Paso more than $610,000 — or 15.86 percent of the more than $3.8 million in remediation costs the court said El Paso had expended. That percentage was adjusted down from 15.96 percent by the court after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held in June 2010 that the trial court should not have admitted the "Smythe Reports" into evidence.

Those reports were prepared by Occidental in 1987 as part of negotiations with other companies in an effort to avoid environmental litigation related to a separate dump site along U.S. Route 90.

After a judgment of nearly $611,000 in El Paso's favor was issued on Jan. 27, Occidental filed a notice of appeal. That appeal is still pending before the Fifth Circuit.

Houston Partner John Eldridge headed the Haynes and Boone El Paso defense team.

Excerpted from Environmental Law360. To view full article, click here. (Subscription required.)