Railroad Company Partially Responsible For Environmental Cleanup.

A location in northern Idaho was listed as a Superfund site due to mining activity.  A 2003 trial resulted in the plaintiff being found 22 percent liable for the environmental damage.  The plaintiff filed bankruptcy in 2005 in an attempt to deal with over $6 billion in environmental liabilities in the United States.  The parties in this case executed a "mutual release" in 2008 that the defendant, a railroad company, claimed absolved of any additional cleanup cost.  In a separate agreement, the plaintiff settled with a city for $482 million and the bankruptcy court later approved that settlement.  Later, the plaintiff filed a CERCLA contribution action against the defendant to force the defendant to pay a share of the $482 million.  The trial court upheld the 2008 mutual release, but the appellate court found the mutual release to be ambiguous because it could be read to release the defendant from only those claims involving remaining site cleanup costs that the defendant incurred.  Asarco, LLC v. Union Pacific Railroad Company, No. 13-35356, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 16614 (9th Cir. Aug. 27, 2014). 

    

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