CERCLA Preemption of State Law Claims

Bringing or Surviving Preemption Challenges to Maximize Contribution Protection

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
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Conducted on Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Recorded event now available

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Course Materials

This CLE course will provide guidance to counsel on when CERCLA preempts state law claims. The panel will review recent treatment by the courts on preemption challenges and will offer best practices for representing potentially responsible parties (PRPs) and surviving preemption challenges.


CERCLA cost recovery claims commonly include state law claims such as nuisance, negligence and contribution, which are often overlooked. The state law claims can be used to circumvent CERCLA contribution limitations for PRPs.

However, claimants have been attacking the inclusion of such state law claims with preemption challenges. Some courts have preempted state law claims that conflict with CERCLA's contribution scheme as well as those that conflict with CERCLA's requirement to remain consistent with the National Contingency Plan.

For instance, recent rulings indicate a trend that claims for unjust enrichment cannot proceed simultaneously with Superfund contribution claims under CERCLA's Section 113(f). Due to inconsistent court treatment among the district courts, however, counsel must understand the best use of the preemption challenge and how to survive such challenges.

Listen as our authoritative panel of environmental attorneys examines where CERCLA may preempt state law claims, discusses recent court treatment, and offers best practices for representing PRPs and surviving preemption challenges.



  1. CERCLA may preempt state law claims
  2. Recent treatment by courts of preemption challenges
  3. Best practices for representing PRPs and surviving preemption challenges


The panel will review these and other key questions:

  • How can state law claims be utilized to impose liability on a broader group of arrangers?
  • What is the differing treatment of preemption challenges by the courts?
  • What steps can counsel take to increase the success of state law claims and overcome preemption challenges?

Following the speaker presentations, you'll have an opportunity to get answers to your specific questions during the interactive Q&A.


Michael Steinberg
Michael Steinberg

Senior Counsel
Morgan Lewis

He focuses on environmental law matters, especially litigation and counseling involving hazardous waste issues under...  |  Read More

Jayesh Hines-Shah
Jayesh Hines-Shah
Nisen & Elliott

He concentrates his practice in complex commercial litigation. Before joining his current firm, he was an associate in...  |  Read More

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