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United States v. Wade

Citation: 14 ELR 20439
No. No. 79-1426, 21 ERC 1348/(E.D. Pa., 04/27/1984) Ruling on effect of prior settlement

The court rules that any judgment against defendants in a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) cost-recovery action that is based on joint and several liability must be reduced by the full amount received by the government in earlier settlements in the action. The court first notes that it has held, 14 ELR 20437, that pre-CERCLA response costs are not recoverable under the statute. It then holds that although settlement could include recovery of pre-CERCLA costs, plaintiff is not entitled to reduce the settlement offset by such an amount. Applicable precedent establishes the rule that settling defendants can bind themselves to the resolution of claims that later prove to be invalid, but that defendants that did not settle are entitled to the full benefit of the invalidation of those claims. The court rules that the intent of the parties to the settlement concerning the application of the payment to pre-CERCLA costs is irrelevant. The court declines to rule on the reduction of an apportioned judgment by the settlement amount, however, limiting its holding to a judgment based on joint and several liability.

[Related decisions are published at 12 ELR 21051, 13 ELR 20815, 14 ELR 20096, 14 ELR 20435, 14 ELR 20436, 14 ELR 20437, 14 ELR 20440, and 14 ELR 20441.

Counsel are listed at 14 ELR 20096.