Third-Party Trustee for RCRA Hazardous Waste Site in Michigan
- 1993 to 2001 -
In 1993, the chief judge of the federal District Court in Michigan named Greenfield to serve in a trust appointment unparalleled in the history of Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)—the federal law that regulates management of hazardous and other solid waste. Under the unprecedented appointment, we reported directly to the chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan.
Greenfield served as third-party trustee in the case of the United States and Michigan versus Michael Ladney and his companies—Production Plated Plastics (PPP) and Michigan City Plastics (MCP). As trustee, we were charged with marshaling and liquidating Ladney’s assets to fund cleanup of the PPP RCRA Site in Richland, Michigan.
Michigan Trust by the Numbers
1st - Unprecedented federal District Court appointment as a third-party trustee for a RCRA case
U.S. Supreme Court Decision - The nation’s highest court upheld Greenfield’s appointment
50+ jobs - Created in Michigan City, Indiana
Setting Precedents in Environmental Litigation
Prior to the Greenfield appointment in 1993, the Michael Ladney case had dragged on through courts. In 1990, the federal court ruled that Ladney had personally violated RCRA by illegally handling and storing hazardous wastes at the PPP facility and ordered him to clean up the PPP site and pay a $1.3 million civil penalty. It was the first time an individual was found personally liable for cleanup under RCRA.
Ladney’s failure to comply with the court’s order led to the judge's decision to appoint Greenfield as Trustee. Ladney vainly appealed every ruling by the federal District Court, including our appointment, which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1996.
Selling Assets to Finance Cleanup
Although a protective order precludes disclosure of many of Greenfield’s actions in this case, our activities required us to unravel a tangled web of interrelated companies and identify assets that had been dissipated or transferred to foreign jurisdictions outside the reach of the U.S. government. Greenfield also marketed Michael Ladney’s brownfield sites in Canada and the United States and the sale of an abandoned manufacturing plant in Michigan City, Indiana, paving the way for its conversion to a light manufacturing and distribution center and the creation of approximately 50 jobs and significant tax revenues.
Greenfield’s Trusted Experience
The federal court selected Greenfield for this extraordinary appointment based on the recommendations of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the State of Michigan.
In a letter the DOJ states: “as Trustee, (Greenfield President) Ms. (Cynthia) Brooks conducted herself with the utmost professionalism and carried out her duties with the highest degree of competence. I recommend Ms. Brooks without qualification for any similar task or appointment in matters related to RCRA or any other environmental statute.”