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Pennsylvania v. Lockheed Martin Corp.

ELR Citation: 42 ELR 20119
Nos. No. 10-4068, (3d Cir., 06/05/2012)

The Third Circuit vacated as moot a lower court decision that dismissed a contractor's third-party complaint against Pennsylvania and the commonwealth's natural resources agency for cleanup costs associated with Quehanna Wild Area Nuclear Site. The contractor argued that the lower court erred by concluding that the commonwealth and agency retained their Eleventh Amendment immunity from suit when the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) voluntarily filed a complaint in federal court against the contractor under CERCLA. Pennsylvania acknowledged that if the contractor is liable for cleanup costs under CERCLA, the contractor can recover contribution from the commonwealth and the natural resources agency for their allocable share of any costs the contractor must pay to PADEP. And the contractor acknowledged that it was of no practical importance whether it could offset its liability with a counterclaim or a third-party complaint. Since the parties agreed that the contractor can obtain contribution from the commonwealth and natural resources agency through the contractor's counterclaim, this concession moots the sovereign immunity issue because it removes the live legal controversy between the parties. Because of mootness, the court did not address the merits of the Eleventh Amendment immunity issue.