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Inventing Slagacre

In law school, property law professors referred to hypothetical parcels of property as Blackacre and Whiteacre (see A.2.). As budding lawyers, we got used to those words and adopted them as part of our jargon.

Thanks to a new pollution case, we now have another word to add to our lexicon:  Slagacre. The Ninth Circuit invented this new reference in its recent decision of Western Properties Service Corporation v. Shell Oil et al. I searched for "Slagacre" in other cases, and it's a first.

But the case is more important than the invention of this word. It stands for the proposition that an innocent purchaser still bears equitable liability for the cleanup. In the trial, Western had won back from the oil companies the $5,000,000 it spent on cleanup. But the Ninth Circuit didn't buy Western's argument that it was completely exempt from cleanup liability, and remanded the case to the lower court to reassess the equitable liability with Western in the mix.

Posted by J. Craig Williams on Wednesday, February 18, 2004


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