United States v. FRC

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Environmental Law
  • Date Filed: 09-16-2014
  • Case #: 12-36065
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Murguia for the Court; Circuit Judge Tashima and District judge Carney
  • Full Text Opinion

Even though a settlement under CERCLA may cause another primarily responsible party to become disproportionately liable, a court will not be found to have abused its discretion in not conducting a comparative fault analysis.

The United States filed suit in 2011 against the Federal Resources Corporation (FRC) and the Coeur d’Alenes Company (CDA) and other primarily responsible parties in order to recover the costs of cleaning up hazardous waste at the Conjecture Mine Site in Bonner County, Idaho. The United States, as allowed under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), entered into a settlement with CDA for an amount less than CDA’s share of the cleanup costs due to CDA’s limited ability to pay through a consent decree. FRC objected to this settlement due to the possibility of the CDA settlement increasing their liability to pay costs, however the district court approved the settlement. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit held that the district court was not required to conduct comparative fault analysis prior to approving the consent decree nor was it improper in finding that the United States conducted an adequate investigation into CDA’s ability to pay. Even though a settlement under CERCLA may cause another primarily responsible party to become disproportionately liable, a court will not be found to have abused its discretion in not conducting a comparative fault analysis. Therefore the district court is AFFIRMED.

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