In New York v. BB&S Treated Lumber Corp., E.D.N.Y. (No. 02-1358, 9/30/07), the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York recently held that a shareholder was not liable for cleanup costs of a contaminated site even though the shareholder was involved in the daily operations of the company. The court stated that in order for a shareholder to be personally liable under CERCLA, the shareholder must have had regular involvement in the company’s environmental issues.
This case is consistent with other recent holdings that a shareholder may be involved in the day to day operations of a business such as overseeing operations and negotiating contracts, without being liable as an “operator” under CERCLA. Liability is more likely to attach, however, when a shareholder is directly involved in environmental compliance matters.