Case Detail

Burlington No. & Santa Fe RR v. United States
On May 4, 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected efforts by the federal government to impose massive environmental clean-up costs on businesses that played little or no role in necessitating the clean-up. The decision was a victory for WLF, which filed a brief urging reversal of an appeals court ruling that had significantly broadened the business community's potential liability for clean-up costs under CERCLA, the "superfund" law. The Court ruled 8-1 that a company should not be held jointly and severally liable for the entire cost of cleaning a hazardous waste site when (as the district court found here) there is a reasonable basis for calculating what percentage of the environmental damage was attributable to the company's conduct. The Court also ruled that a seller of chemicals cannot be held liable for "arranging" disposal of the chemicals at a clean-up site based merely on evidence that the seller was aware that some chemicals were being spilled accidentally by the buyer.
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More Information and Downloads:
11/24/2008: Download the Brief

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