COMMENT: General Electric Co. v. Litton Industrial Automation Systems, Inc.: Are Attorney Fees Recoverable in CERCLA Private Cost Recovery Actions? Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 1991 Minnesota Law Review
Minnesota Law Review

COMMENT: General Electric Co. v. Litton Industrial Automation Systems, Inc.: Are Attorney Fees Recoverable in CERCLA Private Cost Recovery Actions?

May, 1991

75 Minn. L. Rev. 1541

Author

Kanad S. Virk

Excerpt

General Electric (GE) purchased a forty acre plot (the site) in Springfield, Missouri from Litton Industries, Inc. 1 Subsequently, GE contracted to sell nineteen acres of the site to Enterprise Park, a real estate concern that planned to develop the property for commercial use. 2 The plan stalled, however, when the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) discovered that the owner of the site before Litton had dumped cyanide-based electroplating wastes, sludges, and other pollutants at the site. 3 Under threat of legal action from Enterprise Park, 4 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the MDNR, GE began its cleanup of the site. 5

GE brought suit against Litton under the CERCLA 6 statute to recover its response costs 7 for cleaning up the site and the attorney fees it incurred in bringing the claim. 8 The federal district court ordered Litton to pay GE $ 940,000 as reimbursement for cleanup costs. 9 The court also ruled that CERCLA permits plaintiffs to recover attorney fees and ordered Litton to pay GE $ 419,000 in attorney fees and expenses. 10 In December 1990, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision. 11

General Electric raises the question of whether private plaintiffs may recover attorney fees in cost recovery actions under CERCLA. Attorney fees sometimes exceed cleanup costs 12 and therefore assume vast importance in private cost recovery actions. 13 Until the Eighth Circuit's decision in General Electric, however, no federal appellate ...
 
 
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