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United States v. Vista Paint Corp.

filed: September 24, 1992.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF, COUNTERDEFENDANT, AND APPELLEE,
v.
VISTA PAINT CORPORATION, DEFENDANT, COUNTERCLAIMANT, AND APPELLANT. VISTA PAINT CORPORATION, THIRD-PARTY PLAINTIFF AND APPELLANT, V. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY; SOUTH COAST AIR QUALITY MANAGEMENT DISTRICT; SAN DIEGO AIR POLLUTION CONTROL DISTRICT; AIR RESOURCES BOARD; TECHNICAL REVIEW GROUP; THIRD-PARTY DEFENDANTS AND APPELLEES.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California. D.C. No. CV-90-6449-R. Manuel L. Real, Chief District Judge, Presiding

Before: Tang and Hall, Circuit Judges, and Walker,*fn** District Judge.

MEMORANDUM

Vista Paint Corporation ("Vista") appeals from the district court's summary judgment in favor of the government finding Vista liable for violations of the Clean Air Act ("CAA") and awarding the United States ("USA") civil penalties and attorneys fees. Vista also appeals the dismissal of its counterclaims and third- party complaint against the Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA"), California Air Resources Board ("ARB"), South Coast Air Quality Management District ("SCAQMD"), and San Diego Air Pollution Control District ("SDAPCD").

The district court had jurisdiction over the enforcement action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 7413(b) and 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1345, and 1355. Jurisdiction over the third-party complaint and counterclaim was disputed. We have jurisdiction over this timely appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand this action to the district court.

I.

Vista contends that the district court erred in granting motions striking certain of Vista's affirmative defenses and dismissing Vista's counterclaims and third-party claims for want of subject matter jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim.

A. Invalidity claims and defenses.

As Vista had ample opportunity to submit comments on the inclusion of the local rules in the California state implementation plan ("SIP") pursuant to section 307(d) of the CAA, and to challenge EPA's approval of the inclusion of those rules in the SIP pursuant to section 307(b)(1) of the CAA, the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the third-party complaint, the counterclaim, and the affirmative defenses dealing with invalidity.

B. Estoppel claims and defenses.

Assuming that there was jurisdiction over the estoppel claims and defenses, the district court correctly dismissed these claims and defenses for failure to state a claim. Even if the EPA had promised not to exercise its enforcement discretion against those paint manufacturers who ceased sales of non-complying paint by September 1, 1987, and that promise was sufficient to estop EPA, Vista admits that it did not halt the sale of non-complying paint by that date. Accordingly, any "promise" would be inapplicable to Vista and it could not prevail on its estoppel theory as a matter of law.*fn1 Accordingly, the district court properly dismissed the claims and defenses based on estoppel for failure to state a claim.

II.

Vista also contends that the district court erred in finding that Vista violated the CAA by selling or offering for sale non-complying paint, and by refusing to comply with EPA's information request.

A. Paint sale liability.

There was no genuine factual dispute precluding summary judgment as to Vista's liability for selling or offering for sale non-complying paint. Vista was manufacturing, selling and offering for sale non-complying coatings in 1985 when the volatile organic compounds ("VOC") limits became effective. In June 1987, Vista told EPA that it was selling non-complying paint in the SCAQMD and the SDAPCD. In his deposition, Vista's President, Eddie Fischer, admitted that Vista had been violating the rules since 1985 and was doing so before and after September 1, 1987. Vista also admitted that these violations in the SDAPCD continued until October 12, 1987.

Vista did not raise the issue that the dates of the sales were not proved for Sundays and holidays until after summary judgment had been entered. In his declaration in opposition to summary judgment, Fischer denied that Vista offered for sale thousands of gallons of non-complying paint. However, Fischer expressly testified in his deposition that non-complying paint was offered for sale after September 1, 1987, in San Diego. A party may not recant sworn testimony in order to defeat a summary judgment motion. Juardo v. Eleven-Fifty Corp., 813 F.2d 1406, 1410 ...


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