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AVX Corp. v. Corning Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division

April 25, 2018

AVX CORPORATION, Plaintiff,
v.
CORNING INCORPORATED; COMPONENTS, INCORPORATED; CORNING INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION; CORNING SAS; CORNING LIMITED; and CORNING GMBH, Defendants.

          ORDER

          LOUISE W. FLANAGAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the court on defendants' motion to stay (DE 117), to which plaintiff has responded in opposition and defendants have replied. In this posture the issues raised are ripe for ruling.[1] For the following reasons, defendants' motion to stay is denied.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff commenced this action on October 15, 2015, asserting claims for cost recovery, damages, and injunctive relief, associated with alleged environmental contamination on its property, located at 3900 Electronics Drive in Raleigh, North Carolina, formerly owned by defendants or affiliated corporate entities (hereinafter “defendants”), between 1962 and 1987. Defendants sold the property to plaintiff in 1987, with contractual agreement to retain liability for existing violations of environmental laws, including agreement to “effect all remedial measures required by law or regulation.” (Compl. ¶¶ 14, 21). According to the original complaint, the State of North Carolina noticed an illegal “dry well” on the property in 1991, and sampling and environmental assessment reports since then have indicated “the presence of hazardous substances in the soil and groundwater on the Property, but . . . have never fully delineated the vertical or horizontal extent of the impacts.” (Id. ¶¶ 22, 26). In its original complaint, plaintiff asserted the following claims:

1) CERCLA cost recovery claim, 42 U.S.C. § 9607(a)(1);
2) Breach of contract;
3) CERCLA declaratory relief claim, 42 U.S.C. § 9613(g)(2);
4) Federal law declaratory relief;
5) Negligence;
6) Negligence per se;
7) Nuisance;
8) Trespass;
9) Injunction;
10) State law declaratory relief.

         Plaintiff filed a first amended complaint in June 2016, adding information about certain defendant affiliations, and adding a CERCLA claim for contribution, under 42 U.S.C. § 9613(f)(1). The court entered case management order on June 1, 2016, providing a January 27, 2017, deadline for completion of discovery and a February 28, 2017, deadline for dispositive motions, which deadlines since have been extended and continued upon motion of the parties, as described further herein.

         The court held discovery conference on March 8, 2017, at which the court granted motion to withdraw by defendants' counsel, directed consent modification of deadlines, awarded costs and expenses to plaintiff for cancelled depositions, and directed plaintiff to amend complaint to correct certain references to defendants' names and affiliations.

         Plaintiff filed a second amended complaint on April 20, 2017, which clarified the status of certain defendants' affiliations, and added several factual allegations about the extent of release of hazardous substances. (See, e.g., 2nd Am. Compl. ¶¶ 26, 27, 28, 43 (alleging hazard substances are present in the “surface water” on the property, in addition to soil and groundwater)).

         Defendants filed answer and a corresponding motion to amend answer to the second amended complaint on May 22, 2017, seeking to add six counterclaims for CERCLA recovery and breach of contract, contending that plaintiff is responsible for additional environmental contamination on the property. In addition, defendants filed a motion to dismiss plaintiff's common law claims asserted in second amended complaint and to stay remaining claims.

         On June 14, 2017, plaintiff moved to amend the complaint a third time, which motion defendants opposed.[2] Prior to decision on motions then pending, the court received notice of a multi-faceted discovery dispute on October 10, 2017. On October 11, 2017, the court granted defendants' consent motion to extend the discovery deadline from October 20, ...


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