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Beazer E., Inc. v. Mead Corp.

ELR Citation: 38 ELR 20114
Nos. No. 06-4993, (3d Cir., 05/13/2008) remanded

The Third Circuit held that a district court retained subject matter jurisdiction over a company's Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) §113(f)(1) contribution claim despite the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Cooper Industries v. Aviall Services, Inc., 543 U.S. 157, 34 ELR 20154 (2004). The defendant company filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the plaintiff company could not maintain its claim for contribution because the plaintiff company had not been sued under §106 or §107. It also argued that Cooper deprived the district court of subject matter jurisdiction. But the "civil action" requirement in CERCLA §113(f)(1) is not a jurisdictional threshold but, rather, an element of a contribution claim. Nor does the legal insufficiency of the company's CERCLA claim eliminate the lower court's subject matter jurisdiction. And because the defendant company failed to challenge the applicability of §113(f)(1) in an earlier appeal, it waived its nonjurisdictional defense to the plaintiff's contribution claim. The district court, therefore, properly denied the defendant's motion to dismiss.

[Prior decisions in this litigation can be found at 25 ELR 20001 and 35 ELR 20133.]