Thursday, September 16, 2010

City Of Emeryville v. Robinson

Sep 15: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, Case No. 09-15018. The Sherwin-Williams Company (Sherwin-Williams) appealed from an order of the district court granting in part, and denying in part, a motion for declaratory and injunctive relief. Sherwin-Williams brought the motion to enforce a 2001 court-approved settlement (the 2001 Settlement), which it negotiated with appellees City of Emeryville and the Emeryville Redevelopment Agency (collectively, Emeryville) to resolve a lawsuit filed by Emeryville in 1999 in the Northern District of California pursuant to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act  (CERCLA). That suit (the Site A litigation) sought to recover clean-up costs as to a 14.5-acre parcel (Site A) where Sherwin-Williams manufactured, stored, and distributed pesticides from the 1920s through the 1960s.
    Under the terms of the 2001 Settlement, Sherwin-Williams paid Emeryville $6.5 million for Site A clean-up, and agreed to a cost-sharing formula for future groundwater remediation. In the instant action, the district court concluded that the release provision in the 2001 Settlement was intended to bar the claims Emeryville is currently asserting against Sherwin-Williams in a separate action, which the Emeryville Redevelopment Agency filed in 2006 in Alameda County Superior Court (the State Court Action) to recover $32 million in clean-up costs from Sherwin-Williams and others for a different parcel (Site B), but only to the extent the Site B claims arose from or were related to contaminants that "emanated from" Site A.
    Appellees and intervenors Howard F. Robinson, Jr., Christopher D. Adam, and Hilary A. Jackson (collectively, Intervenors) are recent or current owners of portions of Site B, who were also named as defendants in the State Court Action, but they were not parties to and did not have notice of the Site A litigation or the 2001 Settlement. Intervenors are also, however, cross-claimants in the State Court Action, who were allowed to intervene in this case to prevent the extinguishment of rights of contribution they seek to enforce against Sherwin-Williams for contamination of their properties at Site B.
    The Appeals Court determined that in the instant action, the district court ruled that the contribution bar in the 2001 Settlement does not apply to the Intervenors' cross-claims against Sherwin-Williams. The district court had jurisdiction under the express terms of the 2001 Settlement and affirmed the district court ruling.
    Access the complete opinion (click here).

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