Recent CERCLA Decisions: Complexities of Contribution Claims, Arranger Liability, Divisibility, Settlement

An encore presentation with live Q&A.

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

Conducted on Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926
Course Materials

This CLE course will discuss the latest key appellate and Supreme Court CERCLA decisions, provide insights into lessons from the courts for environmental counsel and their clients going forward, and offer best practices for handling CERCLA issues.


Counsel must be up to date and understand the significant developments over the past year from federal court rulings. Further, counsel must follow the decisions by the administration that have affected the likelihood of CERCLA suits.

In Guam v. United States, the Supreme Court clarified when contribution actions under CERCLA may be brought, overturning a D.C. court ruling. The decision provides plaintiffs the opportunity to continue with environmental claims that are not specifically brought under CERCLA.

Recent rulings also conclude that federal district courts have an independent obligation to scrutinize CERCLA settlement terms rather than giving full deference to the parties. Under this standard, courts must independently examine the terms of a consent decree by comparing "the proportion of total projected costs to be paid by the [settling parties] with the proportion of liability attributable to them."

Further, several years after the landmark Supreme Court decision in Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway Co. v. United States, 556 U.S. 599 (2009), federal courts of appeal and district courts continue to clarify the circumstances in which a person is liable as an "arranger" under CERCLA for arranging for the disposal of hazardous substances.

Listen as our panel of environmental attorneys analyzes the latest and most important federal court CERCLA decisions. The panel will provide insight into what those decisions mean going forward and offer best practices for handling CERCLA issues.



  1. Supreme Court CERCLA decisions
  2. District court CERCLA decisions
  3. Federal appellate court CERCLA decisions
  4. Decisions by the administration
  5. What the decisions mean for future cases
  6. Best practices in light of recent CERCLA decisions


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • How can the limitations in Guam v. United States affect complex environmental claims brought under CERCLA and additional regulations?
  • Under what circumstances do companies need to proactively address potential parent liability for CERCLA cleanup costs caused by a subsidiary?
  • What triggers an obligation on the part of a federal district court to delve into the terms of a CERCLA settlement agreement?
  • Do consent decrees related to a CERCLA case start the three-year statute of limitations?
  • What evidence is necessary to establish the divisibility of harm and avoid joint and several liability under CERCLA?
  • What changes, if any, by the current administration impact the likelihood of CERCLA actions proceeding?

An encore presentation with live Q&A.


Fellers, Denise
Denise G. Fellers

Morgan Lewis & Bockius

Ms. Fellers focuses her practice on environmental law, with an emphasis on litigation relating to groundwater...  |  Read More

Kirn, Jillian
Jillian C. Kirn

Greenberg Traurig

Ms. Kirn focuses her practice on environmental and energy matters. She represents clients in litigation in state and...  |  Read More

McGrath, Peter
Peter J. McGrath, Jr.

Moore & Van Allen

A frequent lecturer and author on diverse environmental issues, Mr. McGrath brings to his wide-ranging clients...  |  Read More

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