Golden Gate University Environmental Law Journal


This Comment will examine the development of arranger liability under Ninth Circuit jurisprudence, specifically looking at the impact of Ninth Circuit‟s decision in Burlington Northern and the impact of the Supreme Court‟s reversal. Section II of this Comment will briefly examine the mechanisms for triggering CERCLA liability, specifically the definition of arranger liability under CERCLA. Next, Section III will address arranger liability in the Ninth Circuit. Specifically, this discussion will consider “direct” arranger liability considered in Cadillac Fairview/California, Inc. v. United States, which examined when transactions constitute “arrangements for disposal,” as contrasted with Burlington Northern, which expanded and applied a category of broader arranger liability to a supplier of chemical products to a site. That section will also consider United States v. Lyon, which utilized the Ninth Circuit's decision in Burlington Northern to cast an even wider net of CERCLA liability over manufacturers and suppliers of products that had no role in, or a limited role in, the disposal process. Section IV of this Comment will review the Supreme Court's decision in Burlington Northern v. United States. The Supreme Court rejected the foreseeability standard proffered by the Ninth Circuit in favor of an “intent to dispose” standard for arranger liability under CERCLA. Section V examines the significance of the Supreme Court's decision for future Ninth Circuit cases in addition to providing a snapshot of liability avoided for products manufacturers in the context of dry-cleaning litigation. Finally, this Comment concludes by suggesting that the Ninth Circuit is basically back where it started with a standard similar to the one announced in Cadillac Fairview.