Beveridge & Diamond

Federal Court Sets CERCLA Precedent and Dismisses Fraud, Contract, and Tort Claims in Mining and Land Sale Case Against Oil Company

Beveridge & Diamond, P.C., March 31, 2006

In McDonald et. al. v. Sunoco, Inc. et al. (D. OR 2006), our client, Sunoco, Inc., and related companies, were sued based on  alleged environmental statutory violations, fraud, breach of contract, and tort in connection with the sale of  a mercury mine and related property in Oregon.  The United States District Court for the District of Oregon dismissed the Plaintiffs' case against Sunoco on summary judgment while allowing Sunoco's  counterclaims  under  federal and state environmental  statutes to stand.  The Court set precedent--and overturned its own precedent--by ruling that Section 309 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act ("CERCLA"), which preempts state statutes of limitations under certain circumstances, does not preempt state statutes of repose (statutes of repose set time limits on claims that apply even if a statute of limitations has not run). The Court also set precedent in the District of Oregon by ruling that a claim for contribution may be brought under Section 107 of CERCLA notwithstanding the limitations on Section 113 contribution claims imposed by the Supreme Court in Cooper Industries v. Aviall, 543 US 157 (2004).  Also of general significance was the Court's ruling that a government ordered and approved clean up is a prerequisite for recovery under the Oregon Hazardous Waste Statute.  

To review the opinion, click here.  If you have questions, please contact Hal Segall, lead counsel for Sunoco in this case, at or (202) 789-6038.