United States v. Stringfellow
Citation: 14 ELR 20388
No. No. CV-83-2501-MML, 20 ERC 1912/(C.D. Cal., 04/09/1984) Ruling on retroactivity
The court rules that § 107 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) is retroactive as applied to defendants if it creates new legal obligations, and may be challenged under the Contract Clause. The court rules that CERCLA § 107 satisfies the first prong of the retroactivity test because it applies to past generation and disposal of wastes. It rules that CERCLA's focus on the present effects of disposal as well does not prevent it from being found retroactive, because it is the timing of the transaction giving rise to liability that determines retroactivity. It declines to rule on whether CERCLA applies new liability on defendants, the second prong of the retroactivity test, but notes that it will hold CERCLA § 107 retroactive if defendants demonstrate that they would not have been liable prior to enactment of CERCLA. The court next rules that the Contract Clause of the Constitution applies indirectly to CERCLA, since the Fifth Amendment's Due Process Clause provides essentially the same protection against impairment of contracts by federal action as the Contract Clause provides against state action.
[Related cases are published at 14 ELR 20381 and 20385 — Ed.]
Counsel are listed at 14 ELR 20381.