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US Supreme Court Agrees to Address Circuit Split Over CERCLA Liability

US Supreme Court Agrees to Address Circuit Split Over CERCLA Liability

Author: Daniel T. McKillopDate: January 28, 2021

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to consider a closely-watched case involving liability under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). The questions in Guam v. United States involve the interaction between cost recovery claims under CERCLA section 107 and contribution claims under section 113.

Under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), both the State and the Federal Governments may recover their clean-up costs directly from Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs). CERCLA also authorizes entities who have taken actions to clean up hazardous waste sites to recoup their cleanup costs from other parties who are also responsible for the contamination. Section 107(a) allows a responsible party to recover cleanup costs from other responsible parties. In addition, Section 113(f)(3)(B) provides that a person that has “resolved its liability” for “some or all of a response action or for some or all of the costs of such action” pursuant to a settlement agreement with the government “may seek contribution from any person who is not party to a settlement.”

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