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Quote of the Day - The making of a journalist: no ideas and the ability to express them. - Karl Kraus

Cleaning Up Property and Recovering Money

Try this one on for size: read this article on CNN, and now read this summary on Oyez, a project of Northwestern University.

One by a journalist, and one by a political science professor.

Frankly, I don't understand the one on CNN. The other one makes perfect sense. So, rather than give a quick summary, I'll use Professor Goldman's words: "Does the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) require that a party liable for pollution be sued under CERCLA before seeking clean up funds from other liable parties?"

Better than a lawyer could have said it. 30 words, seven (or eight) of which he couldn't avoid. I didn't count the number of words in CNN's article, but you can bet that it's more than 30.

Anyway, an important decision is now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. When a company voluntarily cleans up toxic contamination from its property, only in a few states can it sue to recover the money it spent. But not in every state, and not based on federal laws.

Only the federal government has that right, and unfortunately, the USEPA can't get to all sites to force a lawsuit against prior owners and operators.

Prediction? The Supremes will uphold the Fifth Circuit, and allow those companies who remove contamination to sue prior owners and operators for contribution.

Posted by J. Craig Williams on Sunday, October 10, 2004


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