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Sugarman and Thomas: Can plaintiffs ‘squeeze’ restoration damages out of ELA?

On April 20, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Atlantic Richfield Co. v. Christian, No. 17-1498, 140 S.Ct. 1335. The Court’s holding was relatively simple: plaintiffs (Montana landowners) could bring state court claims pursuing cleanup of additional contamination from the “Anaconda Smelter,” but they were first required under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) to seek the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) approval for additional cleanup. While on its face this decision addresses the interplay between CERCLA and Montana state law claims, the ramifications of Atlantic Richfield may be felt in Indiana.

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