Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Solutia Inc. v. McWane, Inc.

Mar 6: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit, Case No. 10-15639. Appealed from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. Plaintiffs-Appellants Solutia, Inc. and Pharmacia Corporation (Solutia & Pharmacia) appeal the District Court's grant of summary judgment against their claims under § 107(a) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). Solutia & Pharmacia also appeal the District Court's denial of their Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) motion to clarify or amend the summary judgment order.
    The appeal requires the Appeals Court to decide, as a matter of first impression, whether parties subject to a consent decree
may file claims for cost recovery under § 107(a) of CERCLA, or whether their remedies are limited to filing claims for contribution under § 113(f) of CERCLA. The Appeals Court notes that, as the Magistrate Judge noted in his thorough ruling granting summary judgment, "[t]his case is complex, in terms of its underlying facts, its litigation history, and the legal issues it presents."
    The Appeals Court ruled, ". . .Solutia & Pharmacia limited their arguments to the content of the Partial Consent Decree, and the definition of the Anniston Lead Site contained therein. They never actually argued prior to the grant of summary judgment, as they do now, that they 'voluntarily incurred costs unrelated to the Consent Decree.' Nor did Solutia & Pharmacia cite the properties by name that they now urge should be exempt from summary judgment.
    As the Magistrate Judge correctly noted, '[t]here is no burden upon the district court to distill every potential argument that could be made based on the materials before it on summary judgment. Rather, the onus is upon the parties to formulate arguments; grounds alleged in the complaint but not relied upon in summary judgment are deemed abandoned.' Resolution Trust Corp. v. Dunmar Corp., 43 F.3d 587, 598 (11th Cir. 1995). With this principle in mind, the Magistrate Judge did not abuse his discretion by denying Solutia & Pharmacia's Rule 59(e) motion to alter or amend the summary judgment order. . . we affirm the grant of summary judgment."
    Access the complete opinion (click here). [#Remed, #CA11]
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