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Asarco, LLC v. Hecla Mining Co.

ELR Citation: 42 ELR 20256
Nos. CV-12-0381-LRS, (E.D. Wash., 11/27/2012) (Suko, J.)

A district court held that a refinery that settled in bankruptcy court its liability for response costs incurred at a Superfund site may seek contribution from a mining company. The mining company argued that the settlement agreement for which the refinery seeks contribution only resolves the refinery's own liability at the site and that CERCLA does not provide for contribution for payments that are not more than a party's fair share. But the refinery has sufficiently pleaded a CERCLA contribution claim. The refinery plausibly alleged facts that suggest but do not prove that the defendant company may have legal liability at the site. In addition, the record is insufficient to determine whether the bankruptcy settlement resolved only the refinery's liability or whether it actually resulted in overpayment to which the refinery is entitled to seek contribution from others. And the fact that the mining company was never pursued as a potentially liable party is insufficient, standing alone, to suggest that it is immune from a contribution suit. The court, therefore, denied the mining company's motion to dismiss.