ASARCO v. Union Pacific

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Procedure
  • Date Filed: 08-27-2014
  • Case #: 13-35356
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: District Judge Carney for the Court; Circuit Judges Tashima and Murguia
  • Full Text Opinion

An otherwise time barred claim in an amended pleading shall be found timely if the claim is able to relate back to an original pleading and the amended pleading came about from “the conduct, transaction or occurrence” as raised in the original pleading.

ARASCO, LLC ("ARASCO") filed suit under the Comprehensive Enviromental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act ("CERCLA") looking to recoup from Union Pacific a share of the costs related to the clean-up of the Coeur d’Alene Superfund Site. ARASCO ended up filing a First Amended Complaint to include previously excluded contaminated land. Prior to this, ARASCO filed for bankruptcy which resulted in ARASCO and Union Pacific, acting as a creditor in that action, entering into a settlement that was approved by the bankruptcy court that dealt with Union Pacific’s claims against ARASCO regarding costs associated with the Coeur d’Alene Superfund Site. Union Pacific moved for summary judgment in the present action arguing that the previous settlement barred ARASCO’s current claims and that ARASCO’s claims are time barred based on when ARASCO filed their First Amended Complaint. The district court granted Union Pacific’s motion stating that while ARASCO’s claims are not time barred, their claims are barred due to the prior settlement, to which ARASCO appealed. The Ninth Circuit held that ARASCO’s claims are not time barred and that Union Pacific’s issue preclusion argument could not be resolved via a motion to dismiss. An otherwise time barred claim in an amended pleading shall be found timely if the claim is able to relate back to an original pleading and the amended pleading came about from “the conduct, transaction or occurrence” as raised in the original pleading, which is found if the amended claim will be shown via the “same kind of evidence” as required to show support for the original pleading. Further, Union Pacific’s issue preclusion argument could not be resolved via a motion to dismiss because a factual dispute existed as to the language of the prior settlement. REVERSED.

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