Byline: Derek Hawkins
United States Supreme Court
Case Name: Atlantic Richfield Company v. Gregory A. Christian, et al.,
Case No.: 17-1498
Focus: CERCLA Violation Jurisdiction
For nearly a century, the Anaconda Copper Smelter in Butte, Montana contaminated an area of over 300 square miles with arsenic and lead. Over the past 35 years, the Environmental Protection Agency has worked with the current owner of the smelter, Atlantic Richfield Company, to implement a cleanup plan under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980. EPA projects that the cleanup will continue through 2025.
A group of 98 landowners sued Atlantic Richfield in Montana state court for common law nuisance, trespass, and strict liability. Among other remedies, the landowners sought restoration damages, which under Montana law must be spent on rehabilitation of the property. The landowners' proposed restoration plan includes measures beyond those the agency found necessary to protect human health and the environment.
We consider whether the Act strips the Montana courts of jurisdiction over the landowners' claim for restoration damages and, if not, whether the Act requires the...