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United States v. Raytheon Co.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

September 25, 2018

United States of America, Plaintiff,
v.
Raytheon Company, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          NATHANIEL M. GORTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This dispute arises from the government's claim under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (“CERCLA”), 42 U.S.C. § 9607, to recover costs incurred by the United States Navy (“the Navy”) in response to the release of chlorinated solvents from the Naval Weapons Industrial Reserve Plant (“NWIRP” or “the facility”) in Bedford, Massachusetts.

         In or about 1989, while Raytheon Company (“Raytheon” or “defendant”) operated NWIRP as the Navy's contractor, the Navy identified chlorinated solvents in the groundwater under the facility. Several years later, in or about 1995, the Navy began to build a pump-and-treat system to stop the chlorinated solvent plume from migrating beyond the facility. That pump-and-treat system became operational in or about 1997. In 2010, the Navy issued a record of decision (“ROD”) for NWIRP, which selected a final remedial action to address the solvent plume. The Navy now alleges under 42 U.S.C. § 9607(a)(2) that defendant is liable for unreimbursed response costs incurred and to be incurred by the Navy, including enforcement costs, stemming from the contamination at NWIRP that began around 1989. The Navy also seeks declaratory judgment under 42 U.S.C. §§ 9613(g)(2) and 9607(a), respectively. Pending before the Court is the defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint.

         I. Background

         In or about 1989, while Raytheon operated NWIRP as the Navy's contractor, the Navy identified chlorinated solvents in the groundwater under its facility. Following an identified leak of such solvents, the Town of Bedford (“the Town”) filed suit against the Navy, Raytheon and others, alleging that the NWIRP facility contaminated the Town's water wells (herein referred to as the “Bedford Litigation”). In March, 1993, another session of this Court entered a judgment dismissing with prejudice the Bedford Litigation, including the Navy's cross claims against then co-defendant Raytheon. That dismissal was based upon six separate settlement agreements, including one overarching settlement agreement (“the Global Agreement”). The Court also retained jurisdiction with respect to the provisions of 1) the Agreement Between the Town of Bedford and the Department of the Navy Regarding Site Y (“Site Y Agreement”), 2) the Settlement Agreement Between the Department of the Navy and the Department of the Air Force and Raytheon (“Navy-Raytheon Agreement”) and 3) Massport's cross claims against the Air Force.

         In 1999, after the pump-and-treat system built by the Navy was operable, the Navy negotiated a separate agreement, the Federal Facility Agreement (“the FFA”), with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“the EPA”). Ten years later, in 2010, the Navy issued a record of decision (“ROD”) for NWIRP which established a remedial action to address the solvent plume.

         II. Analysis

         A. Standard of Review

         To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face”. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). In considering the merits of a motion to dismiss, the Court may look only to the facts alleged in the pleadings, documents attached as exhibits or incorporated by reference in the complaint and matters of which judicial notice can be taken. Nollet v. Justices of Trial Court of Mass., 83 F.Supp.2d 204, 208 (D. Mass. 2000), aff'd, 248 F.3d 1127 (1st Cir. 2000). In “narrow exceptions” courts may take into consideration documents whose authenticity is not disputed by the parties, official public records, documents central to the plaintiff's claim or documents sufficiently referred to in the complaint. Watterson v. Page, 987 F.2d 1, 3 (1st Cir. 1993).

         Furthermore, the Court must accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Langadinos v. Am. Airlines, Inc., 199 F.3d 68, 69 (1st Cir. 2000). If the facts in the complaint are sufficient to state a cause of action, a motion to dismiss the complaint must be denied. See Nollet, 83 F.Supp.2d at 208.

         Although a court must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in a complaint, that doctrine is not applicable to legal conclusions. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009). Threadbare recitals of the legal elements which are supported by mere conclusory statements do not suffice to state a cause of action. Id. Accordingly, a complaint does not state a claim for relief where the well-pled facts fail to warrant an inference of any more than the mere possibility of misconduct. Id. at 1950.

         B. Res judicata

         In appropriate cases an “affirmative defense may be adjudicated on a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim”. In re Colonial Mortg. Bankers Corp. et. al v. Lopez-Stubbe et. al, 324 F.3d 12, 16 (1st Cir. 2003). “The affirmative defense of res judicata is no exception”. Id. Dismissal under res judicata, however, can only occur where the facts that establish the defense are conclusive and definitively ascertainable from 1) the allegations of the complaint, 2) the documents (if any) incorporated therein, 3) matters of public record and 4) other matters of which the court may take judicial notice. Id. at 16.

         Furthermore, to establish the affirmative defense of res judicata, defendants must show that 1) “there is a final judgment on the merits in an earlier action”, 2) “sufficient identity” exists between the parties in the earlier and later suits and 3) “sufficient identity” exists between the ...


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