Enviro Case Against Boeing Headed Back to Fed Court


     (CN) – A class action alleging that Boeing polluted Washington state’s groundwater for 40 years with assistance from a negligent environmental remediation firm belongs in Federal Court rather than state court, the 9th Circuit ruled Monday.
     Led by Jocelyn Allen, the lawsuit centers around an aircraft-parts manufacturing plant that Boeing operated in Auburn from the 1960s to the 1990s.
     The Washington State Department of Ecology first issued requirements for the “treatment, storage and handling of hazardous materials” in 1987.
     Boeing agreed to perform a clean-up five years later and retained the firm Landau Associates to probe the problem and remediate it.
     Allen’s class action against Boeing and Landau originated in Washington’s King County Superior Court in November 2013.
     Raising a series of procedural challenges, Boeing requested that the case be removed to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act and also claimed that Landau had been fraudulently joined as a defendant.
     A federal judge kicked the case back to state court in a Sept. 23 ruling that also found nothing wrong with joining Landau to the action.
     In a mixed ruling on appeal, the 9th Circuit gave the case a return ticket back to the federal court but upheld the finding that joining Landau was not fraudulent.
     U.S. Circuit Judge Consuelo Callahan wrote the majority opinion holding that the case “does not come within the local single event exception to federal jurisdiction under CAFA.”
     Judge Michael Hawkins joined her majority opinion, and Judge Johnnie Rawlinson dissented in part.
     Plaintiff attorney Bob Finnerty said the ruling didn’t have any “real signficance.”
     “The plaintiffs have suffered a long time and they are looking forward to their day in court regardless of which court they find themselves in,” he added.
     A Boeing representative said the 9th Circuit got it right in bringing the case back to a federal courtroom “where it belongs.”     
     She added: “Contrary to the plaintiffs’ allegations, Boeing has been conducting thorough investigation and cleanup activities under the direction of the Washington State Department of Ecology to identify and address any potential soil and groundwater impacts from our Auburn plant. We are cooperating fully with government authorities in this effort. The allegations in the lawsuit have no merit and we intend to vigorously defend against these claims.”

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