On April 2, 2015, the Ninth Circuit held that a district court has the discretion to determine the most equitable method of accounting for settlement between private parties when it allocates liability to a non-settling defendant in a CERCLA contribution action. AmeriPride Serv. v. Texas Eastern Overseas, Case no. 12-17245 (9th Cir. Apr. 2, 2015). The Ninth Circuit’s decision is consistent with previous case law from the First Circuit (Am. Cyanamid Co. v. Capuano, 381 F.3d 6, 20-21 (1st Cir. 2004)) but splits with case law from the Seventh Circuit (Akzo Nobel Coatings, Inc. v. Aigner Corp., 197 F.3d 302, 308 (7th Cir. 1999)), which has held that a court must use the pro tanto approach of the Uniform Contribution Among Tortfeasors Act when allocating liability to a non-settling defendant.
AmeriPride brought CERCLA § 107(a) and § 113(f) claims against Texas Eastern Overseas (TEO) related to a contaminated industrial site in Sacramento, California. The district court granted a summary judgment motion filed by AmeriPride, holding that TEO was liable for AmeriPride’s response costs under CERCLA § 107(a) and that AmeriPride could recover amounts AmeriPride had paid in settlement to other parties from TEO under CERCLA § 113(f). In an earlier order in the case, the court also said it would adopt the proportionate share approach of the Uniform Comparative Fault Act in allocating response costs.
Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Holds District Courts Have Discretion in Accounting For CERCLA Private Party Settlement When Allocating to Non-Settling Parties