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9th Circuit Defers To High Court On Cleanup Costs

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A recent U.S. Supreme Court precedent allowing private parties to recover environmental cleanup costs has overruled the 9th Circuit's decision in Pinal Creek Group v. Newmont Mining Corp., a three-judge panel of the federal appeals court ruled.

In Pinal Creek, the 9th Circuit held that the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act entitles potentially responsible parties to seek only contribution, not cost recovery, from other potentially responsible parties.

This view conflicts with U.S. v. Atlantic Research Corp., in which the Supreme Court held that CERCLA provides "so-called potentially responsible parties (PRP) ... with a cause of action to recover costs from other PRPs."

"To the extent, therefore, that Pinal Creek conflicts with Atlantic Research, we conclude that Pinal Creek has been overruled," Judge Tashima wrote.

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