Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

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A settlement agreement entered into under an authority other than the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) may give rise to a CERCLA contribution action. A "corrective measure" under a different environmental statute, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), qualifies as a "response" action under CERCLA. In this case, the Ninth Circuit held that Asarco did not resolve its liability under the 1998 RCRA Decree. Therefore, Asarco could not have brought its contribution action in 1998, and the statute of limitations did not begin to run with entry of the 1998 RCRA Decree. Accordingly, the district court erred in dismissing Asarco's action on statute of limitations grounds. The panel vacated and remanded for further proceedings to determine whether Asarco was entitled to contribution for the response costs it incurred under the 2009 agreement. View "Asarco LLC V. Atlantic Richfield Co." on Justia Law

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The City of Pomona appealed a jury judgment that SQM was not liable for causing perchlorate contamination in Pomona's water system. The Ninth Circuit held that the district court abused its discretion by limiting the testimony of one of Pomona's experts and failing to make sufficient findings before admitting the testimony of one of SQM's experts. In this case, the record demonstrated that the science of stable isotope analysis evolved significantly during this case's first journey through the appellate system. The panel explained that, by constraining Dr. Sturchio to his 2011 report, the district court abused its discretion. The panel further held that the district court's failure to make any findings regarding the reliability of Dr. Laton's testimony, despite Pomona's Daubert motion, was an abuse of discretion. Therefore, these errors, in combination, were prejudicial. Accordingly, the panel reversed the district court's judgment and remanded for a new trial. View "City of Pomona v. SQM North America Corp." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of a preliminary injunction in an action regarding the North Fork Mill Creek A to Z Project in the Colville National Forest. The panel held that Alliance has not demonstrated serious questions, much less a likelihood of success, with respect to the merits of any of its National Forest Management Act (NFMA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) claims. Therefore, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion for a preliminary injunction. In this case, Alliance has not shown either serious questions or a likelihood of success on the merits of a NFMA or NEPA claim based on the Forest Service's use of the "habitat as a proxy" approach for assessing the viability of the pine marten; the "proxy-as-proxy" approach for assessing the viability of fisher; the Forest Service's snow-intercept cover analysis; the open road density analysis; and the sediment analysis. View "Alliance for the Wild Rockies v. Pena" on Justia Law

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Ground Zero filed suit challenging the Navy's expansion of a TRIDENT nuclear submarine operating center pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq. The Ninth Circuit held that the Navy violated NEPA's public disclosure requirement by not revealing that the Safety Board withheld approval of its plan for the construction of a second Explosives Handling Wharf (EHW-2), and by withholding the now-disclosed portions of the appendices to the environmental impact statement (EIS). However, such errors were harmless. In all other respects, the Navy satisfied NEPA's requirements. Therefore, the panel affirmed summary judgment for the Navy. The panel narrowly construed the district court's order restricting Ground Zero's use of portions of the record. Even with this reading, it was not clear that the district court's order comports with the First Amendment. Therefore, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action v. US Department of the Navy" on Justia Law