Our colleague Stuart Gerson of Epstein Becker Green has a new post on SCOTUS Today that will be of interest to our readers: “A Unanimous Court Applies Unambiguous Statutory Requirements in Two New Decisions“.
The following is an excerpt:
The Court is in full-majority mode today, again focusing on text rather than more abstract notions of policy.
In Territory of Guam v. United States, a unanimous Court, in an opinion written by Justice Thomas, reversed the D.C. Circuit and revived Guam’s suit against the U.S. Navy, seeking $160 million because of pollution at a waste deposit site on the island. A decade after settling certain claims by the Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Water Act, Guam sued the United States under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), alleging that the United States’ use of the dump exposed it to two possible actions under CERCLA, including recovery of the costs of a “removal or remedial action,” and also a “contribution” action under CERCLA §113(f), which provides that a party that “has resolved its liability to the United States … for some or all of a response action or for some or all of the costs of such action in [a] settlement may seek contribution from any person who is not [already] party to a [qualifying] settlement.” The D. C. Circuit rejected Guam’s CERCLA claims, holding that while Guam had once possessed a CERCLA contribution claim based on the 2004 consent decree, that claim was time-barred, and that Guam couldn’t assert a cost-recovery claim either. Reversing that holding, the Court agreed that Guam’s 2004 consent decree did not give rise to a viable CERCLA contribution claim, leaving Guam free to pursue a cost-recovery action.
Click here to read the full post and more on SCOTUS Today.