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Supreme Court Turns CERCLA Litigation On Its Head

Well, rock my world.

The United States Supreme Court today issued its decision in Cooper Industries, Inc. v. Aviall Services, Inc. The Court held that private parties who voluntarily incur response costs to clean up hazardous substances are not entitled to seek contribution from other potentially responsible parties under section 113(f)(1) of CERCLA.

Virtually all courts had previously held that such parties did have the right to bring contribution claims under this provision. Not anymore, unfortunately.

The Court left unresolved, however, the important question of whether parties could recover their costs from other potentially responsible parties under CERCLA section 107. Since it's one of the only provisions left, the decision will certainly generate more litigation under section 107.

Now the Polanco Act will become tremendously more useful in California, since PRPs can recover not only their costs, but also their attorneys fees.

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Posted by J. Craig Williams on Monday, December 13, 2004


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