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Veolia Es Special Servs., Inc. v. Hilltop Invs., Inc.

ELR Citation: 40 ELR 20094
Nos. No. 3:07-0153, (S.D. W. Va., 03/12/2010) settlement agreement

A district court held that a proposed settlement relating to cleanup costs of a hazardous waste spill from a tank car entered into between plaintiff and one defendant was fair and was reached in good faith and that the pro tanto method was superior for settlement credit on the facts of the case. Without clear guidance from the statute, the court is left to choose among various ways to credit the settlement. Considering the policies embodied in CERCLA and the relevant effects on promotion of settlement and judicial economy presented in the type of case before the court, the pro tanto approach is the better approach to settlement credit. At the same time, considering the evidence in the record and representations by counsel at the fairness hearing, the court must find, taking into account the principles and factors enunciated by the West Virginia Supreme Court, that the settlement is fair and was made in good faith. While the settlement value is certainly less than the responsibility assigned to defendant, there are justifiable reasons for the discount. In short, the court can find nothing to rebut the presumptive good faith of the settlement.

[Prior decisions in this litigation can be found at 38 ELR 20076 and 40 ELR 20062]