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Showing 70 posts in Cost Recovery.

In Citizens Development Corporation, Inc. v. County of San Diego, et al., No. 12-CV-334-GPC-KSC, 2022 WL 4374957 (S.D. Cal. Sept. 21, 2022), the Honorable Gonzalo P. Curiel of the United States District Court for the Southern District of California granted three Motions for Good Faith Settlement Determination in an action under Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA”) related to alleged contamination of surface water and groundwater in and around Lake San Marcos and San Marcos Creek located in San Marcos, California.  One day later, in Maxim I Properties v. A.M. Bud Krohn, et al., No. 12-cv-00449-DMR, 2022 WL 4390433 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 22, 2022), the Honorable Donna M. Ryu of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California issued an order denying a Motion for Good Faith Settlement filed by Maxim I Properties (“Maxim”) and defendant Moyer Products (“Moyer”) in a matter concerning contamination at a property in San Jose, California.  As such settlements can provide contribution protection to parties potentially liable for clean up, these two cases provide good insight into the factors courts will consider in determining whether to approve them.      Read More »

In Rio Linda Elverta Cmty. Water Dist. v. United States, No. 2:17-CV-01349, 2022 WL 3567143 (E.D. Cal. Aug. 18, 2022), the Honorable Kimberly J. Mueller, Chief Judge for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, dismissed  two California water utilities’ federal and state law claims against the federal government and several private sector defendants relating to hexavalent chromium (“Cr6”) pollution at the former McClellan Air Force Base (“Base”) near Sacramento, California.  The water utilities allege that during active operations of the Base, the federal government used products containing Cr6, which contaminated the groundwater aquifer from which the water utilities derive municipal drinking water, making it unsafe for human consumption.  Much of the case turned on the interplay between CERCLA sections 104 and 113(h) in the context of a clean up of a federal facility. Read More »

On August 19, 2022, a magistrate judge of the Colorado District Court held that contribution-defendants cannot assert their own contribution claims under section 113(f) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (“CERCLA”) because they are only liable for their fair share of response costs.  Atlantic Richfield Co. v. NL Indus., Inc., No. 20-cv-00234-NYW-KLM, 2022 WL 3577261, at *6 (D. Colo. Aug. 19, 2022). The magistrate judge’s analysis resolved questions for potentially responsible parties (“PRPs”) seeking to assert contribution claims against other PRPs based on a claim of inequitable distribution of common liability in a 113(f) action. Id. at *4. Read More »

This post was authored by summer associate Reilly Wright

In United States v. ERR, LLC, No. 21-30028 (5th Cir. May 26, 2022), the Fifth Circuit ruled that the Seventh Amendment guarantees the right to a jury trial for defendants facing subrogation and recoupment claims under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (the “OPA”).  In 2015, ERR was found responsible for an oil spill originating from a wastewater treatment center that it owned and operated on the banks of the Mississippi River.  In 2017, the United States sued ERR under the OPA for removal costs it had paid from the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund (the “Fund”) to Oil Mop LLC, a spill-response service provider.  ERR demanded a jury trial, which the district court denied, finding that the relief provided for in the OPA was in the nature of equitable restitution, so its claims sounded in equity, not in law.  However, the Fifth Circuit overturned that decision, holding that such claims were legal in nature and therefore provide ERR the right to a jury trial. Read More »

In Georgia-Pacific Consumer Products LP v. NCR Corporation, the Sixth Circuit confronted a novel question concerning CERCLA’s statutes of limitations: whether a bare declaratory judgment on liability triggers the Section 113(g)(3) three-year limitations period for a contribution claim brought under Section 113(f)(1). The first circuit court to address this issue, the Court answered in the affirmative. Read More »

There are surprisingly few cases addressing whether, for an entity to be liable as an arranger under CERCLA, it must have known that the disposed substance was dangerous or hazardous. On March 10, 2022, in City of Las Cruces and Dona Ana County v. The Lofts at Alameda, LLC, the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico became the third federal district court to answer this question directly.

Two local government entities sued American Linen for cost recovery and contribution, alleging its decades-long operation of dry cleaning facilities caused them to incur costs to remediate a plume of contaminated groundwater. Specifically, the plaintiffs asserted that American Linen instructed its employees to dispose of PCE-laden wastes off site and that it contracted with a truck hauler to transport these wastes to a dump site three miles away. American Linen moved to dismiss, arguing principally that at the time of disposal, it did not know the wastes were hazardous substances. Read More »

On December 2, 2021, addressing issues related to the definition of “disposal” and compliance with the National Contingency Plan (“NCP”) in a claim brought under Section 107 of CERCLA, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California denied both Plaintiff Stanford University’s (“Stanford”) motion for summary judgment and Defendant Agilent Technologies, Inc.’s (“Agilent”) cross motion for summary judgment. See Bd. of Trs. of the Leland Stanford Junior Univ. v. Agilent Techs., Inc., Slip Op. (N.D. Cal. Dec. 2, 2021). The Court denied Stanford’s motion because there was a genuine dispute about whether HP spread PCB contaminated soil over uncontaminated areas of Stanford’s property and Stanford failed to show that it incurred costs consistent with the NCP. Id.  The court denied HP’s cross motion because, although incurred in connection with redevelopment of the property, Stanford’s clean-up costs were “necessary” within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 9607(a)(4)(B) and, separately, because a genuine dispute existed as to whether Stanford consented to the disposal of hazardous material on its property. Id. Read More »

On November 17, 2021, the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed a decision of the lower court that the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company (PRIDCO) was prima facie liable under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), 42 U.S.C. § 9601 et seq., that it could not avail itself of the contiguous property owner defense, and that the selected response action was not arbitrary or capricious.  The decision is particularly noteworthy in that the only identified contamination was in the groundwater under PRIDCO’s property, with no evidence that the source of the contamination was any activity on PRIDCO’s property.  Nevertheless, the Court held that because the movement of groundwater constitute a continuous “release,” CERCLA liability attached. Read More »

On September 3, 2021, the United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit, vacated the lower court’s determination that liability for remediating the environmental harm associated with a groundwater plume was divisible under Section 107 of CERCLA. In Von Duprin LLC v. Major Holdings, LLC, the environmental harm stemmed from a groundwater plume created from decades of known pollution involving four parcels and primarily four parties. No. 20-1711 (7th Cir. Sept. 3, 2021). As we reported here, the trial court’s apportionment of liability appeared to intermingle factors relevant to both an allocation and apportionment of liability. The appellate court found the same, and vacated the trial court’s apportionment of liability due in part to the apparent application of factors relevant to an allocation of joint liability. At a threshold level, the appellate court also vacated the trial court’s determination at summary judgment that a reasonable basis existed to apportion liability based on causal factors, rather than allocate joint liability based on equitable factors. The appellate court affirmed, however, the trial court’s holdings related to the bona fide prospective purchaser (BFPP) defense, compliance with the National Contingency Plan (NCP), and the admission of expert testimony. Read More »

On Wednesday, August 18, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacated a district court order dismissing claims for violations of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act ("CERCLA"), 42 U.S.C. § 9601 et seq. See Revitalizing Auto Cmtys. Envtl. Response Tr. v. Nat'l Grid USA, No. 20-1931-cv (2d Cir. Aug. 18, 2021). The Court held that the claims, which were brought under sections 107 and 113 of CERCLA, were prudentially ripe because they were based on costs plaintiffs had already incurred for which they might not receive repayment through EPA investigation. Id. Read More »