A federal court in the Eastern District of Wisconsin has held that a party entering into an agreement with the federal government to settle a claim for liability under the Superfund law may only pursue a contribution claim for payments that were made under the agreement. Under the Superfund law, defendants face joint and several liability, while contribution claims are limited to a defendant’s equitable share of the cost of the remediation at the site. The plaintiff in this case, Appvion, Inc., filed a claim against the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers stating that its dredging activity exacerbated the contamination at the site. The Seventh Circuit ruled that, because Appvion had previously entered into a unilateral administrative order with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, it was barred from bringing a contribution action against the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers for additional damages.
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