New opinion—Third Circuit rules for government in CERCLA appeal over weapons-factory cleanup costs

Cranbury Brick Yard LLC v. United States—civil / environmental—affirmance—Bibas

This appeal arose from a dispute over who bears the costs of cleaning up a World War II-era weapons factory in New Jersey. The property’s former owner reached a settlement with the state that settled some of the liability issues. Then, the property’s current owner ratified that settlement.  When the current owner began doing the clean-up, the job proved unexpectedly expensive, and the current owner sued the federal government on the theory that it was liable as one of the site’s polluters for cost recovery and contribution under CERCLA. The district court granted summary judgment for the government, and today the Third Circuit affirmed. The court held that the current owner’s cost-recovery claim was barred by the prior settlement and that the contribution claim was time-barred.

Joining Bibas were Hardiman and Greenaway, Jr. Arguing counsel were John McGahren of Morgan Lewis for the current owner and Avi Kupfer of the DOJ for the government.