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<I>United States v. Atlantic Research</I>: The Supreme Court Almost Gets It Right

November 2007

Citation: 37 ELR 10810

Issue: 11

Author: Jeffrey M. Gaba

Editors' Summary: Cooper Industries v. Aviall Services, a 2004 U.S. Supreme Court case, challenged the legal community's understanding of rights of cost recovery under CERCLA, ruling that PRPs who voluntarily cleaned up property did not have a cause of action in contribution under §113(f). However, earlier this year, in United States v. Atlantic Research Corp., the Court held that PRPs who voluntarily clean up contaminated properties may have a right of recovery under §§107(a)(4)(B) or 113(f). In this Article, Jeffrey M. Gaba explores the issues left unresolved or convoluted by these two opinions. He begins with background on the private rights of cost recovery under CERCLA, and then parses these two decisions. He concludes by encouraging the Court to reconcile the different parts of CERCLA to create a coherent set of rights to cost recovery for PRPs.

Jeffrey M. Gaba is Professor of Law, Dedman School of Law, Southern Methodist University, and Of Counsel, Gardere Wynne Sewell, L.L.P. He was counsel for Aviall Services Co. in Cooper Indus. v. Aviall Serv. and drafted an amicus brief on behalf of Aviall in United States v. Atlantic Research.

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