October 25, 2019

U.S. Supreme Court reviews CERCLA preemption of state restoration claims

Meline MacCurdy and Katherine Felton

The U.S. Supreme Court recently accepted review of a decision from the Supreme Court of Montana that has potentially wide-reaching implications for the interplay between the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and state common law restoration claims. The case, Atlantic Richfield Company v. Gregory A. Christian, involves restoration damage claims brought under state law by residential property owners within a 35-year-old Superfund site, currently under U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-directed remediation. The landowners’ claims, if upheld, could require remediation beyond that selected by EPA; conversely, a decision against the landowners could establish the preeminence of CERCLA over state law claims for damages from contaminated properties.

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