CHICAGO -- The Amoco Oil Company has been ordered to pay more than $2.2 million to the former owner of the Palatine (IL) Plaza, a 137,000 square foot shopping center, as a result of Amoco's responsibility for environmental contamination which led to the inability to sell the property at a fair market value, it was announced by Fred Klein, attorney for the City of Chicago pension funds which owned the shopping center when the contamination was discov
"This is a major victory for property owners," said Klein, a partner of Goldberg, Kohn, Bell, Black, Rosenbloom and Moritz, Ltd. "This squarely places the blame for the property's devaluation and responsibility for its remediation on the shoulders of the contaminator. This is a clear case of 'contamination devaluation.'"
The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld a federal jury's January 1998 verdict which focused on lost asset value resulting from discovery of the property's contamination. The jury decided against Amoco, finding that its neighboring service station was responsible for petroleum contamination of the soils and the groundwater at the Palatine Plaza, which led to an inability to sell the contaminated property to anyone other than a "vulture" buyer. The jury ordered Amoco to pay $1.85 million in damages. The court then ordered Amoco to pay $192,000 in attorneys fees and costs incurred by the pension funds, and to pay for the expenses for the clean-up of the site, which is still in process.
The initial verdict and subsequent judgments are significant in that they:
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