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United States v. Albert Inv. Co.

ELR Citation: 39 ELR 20258
Nos. No. 08-6267, (10th Cir., 11/10/2009)

The Tenth Circuit reversed a lower court decision denying a railroad company's motion to intervene in the United State's CERCLA §107 action against 44 PRPs concerning a hazardous waste site owned by the railroad company. The government lodged a consent decree memorializing a settlement agreement that the 44 settling PRPs would enjoy immunity from contribution actions or claims for the site. In a related, pending action, the United States also seeks to hold the company jointly and severally liable for unreimbursed cleanup costs and natural resources damages related to the site. Because the consent decree would eliminate the railroad company's contribution right as to the settling defendants under CERCLA §113(f)(2), the company sought to intervene, but the lower court denied its motion. Contrary to the ruling of the lower court, however, the company's statutory right to contribution under CERCLA is a sufficient interest for intervention as of right. Because the company has demonstrated all four requirements for intervention as of right—timeliness, interest, impairment, and inadequate representation—the lower court erred in denying the company's motion. On remand the company must be allowed to intervene.