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Champion Labs., Inc. v. Metex Corp.

ELR Citation: 38 ELR 20104
Nos. No. 02-5284, (D.N.J., 04/21/2008)

A district court held that a company that entered a settlement agreement with a state agency for natural resource damages may seek contribution for a response action under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) §113(f)(3)(B) against its neighbor. Because the company has entered into a judicially approved settlement with the state, and because the neighbor is not a party to that settlement, the company stated a claim under CERCLA §113(f)(3)(B). And although the settlement resolves the state's natural resource damages, it contemplates and resolves CERCLA liability and provides that the settlement for natural resource damages includes the "payment of compensation for the restoration of, the lost value of, injury to, or destruction of groundwater and groundwater services." It cannot be said that the "payment of compensation for the restoration . . . of groundwater and groundwater services" is not a cost for a response action to clean up a site under CERCLA. The court, therefore, denied the neighbor's motion to dismiss. Although the neighbor may ultimately prevail that the settlement agreement did not actually resolve any costs for a response action or that it is not liable for contribution, at this stage, the company has stated a claim under §113(f)(3)(B).