Owner/Officer of Company Can Be Personally Liable for Toxic Emissions Released by Company.
Plaintiffs brought an action for personal injuries and property damage allegedly caused by toxic emissions released by defendant Tonawanda Coke Corporation. An owner and officer of Tonawanda Coke (Crane) moved to dismiss the cause of action suing him in an individual capacity. In affirming the denial of that motion, the Fourth Department wrote:
Although “[a] corporate officer is not held liable for the negligence of the corporation merely because of his official relationship[,]” that officer will be held liable if it is established “that the officer was a participant in the wrongful conduct” … .Plaintiffs alleged in the first amended complaint that Crane was or should have been aware of the relevant environmental regulations, was ultimately responsible for reporting benzene emissions to the Environmental Protection Agency, and personally supervised and exercised control over Tonawanda Coke’s operations … .Thus, plaintiffs have alleged that Crane actively participated in the wrongful conduct by approving the policies that allegedly caused the environmental contamination … . Abbot v Tonawanda Coke Corporation, et al, 155, CA 12-01384, Fourth Dept. 3-15-13