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The Supreme Courts Decision in Burlington: Arranger Liability Under CERCLA Has Limits; Apportionment Claims Do Not Require Precise Evidence

May 07, 2009

By Jill Yung, David J. Freeman and Chuck Patrizia

On May 4, 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway Co. v. United States (Burlington) that arranger liability under CERCLA requires that the owner or supplier of material must enter into the transaction for the purpose of disposing of at least a portion of the material supplied. Mere knowledge that some material may be spilled or disposed of is not sufficient to support CERCLA liability. This opinion overturned Ninth Circuit and other decisions, and assures manufacturers and similarly situated entities that incidental spills that occur in connection with the transfer of products do not generally constitute arrangements for disposal.