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该帖子主要由MGKF夏季助理Andrew LeDonne撰写。 

On 七月 17, 2019, 的 第九巡回赛 Court of Appeals upheld a district court’s interpretation of a release agreement between ASARCO and 的 Union Pacific 铁路 Company (“UP”)  to preclude ASARCO要求UP追回 cleanup costs for 的 Coeur d’Alene超级基金网站(“ CDA网站”)。 ASARCO LLC诉Union Pac。 R.R. Co.,2019 WL 3216615(9th Cir.2019年7月17日)。  This was 的 second time that 的 第九巡回赛 had 的 matter before it, and dispatched it with few words -- but with enough to remind practitioners of 的 importance of careful wording of settlement and release agreements. 

ASARCO and UP were both involved in mining operations in 的 Coeur d'Alene River watershed, which was placed on 的 塞拉 国家优先事项清单 in 1983. 由于2003年的审判, CERCLA责任已分配 among several 潜在责任方, but before 的 amount of 的 damages could be determined, ASARCO申请破产保护。 在该动作中, UP and 的 United States filed 要求ASARCO赔偿损失以进行回应和其他索赔的索赔证明 costs at 的 CDA 网站和其他几个超级基金网站。 

2008年,ASARCO和UP 签订了破产法院批准的和解协议, 其中包含“相互发布”,相关部分提供了彼此从“ 在法律上或衡平法上,无论是已知的还是未知的,由于或以任何方式引起的所有形式,性质或描述的所有损害,损失,费用,成本,责任,索赔,要求,诉讼,诉讼因由和投诉与。 。 。 剩余网站成本。” 在包括CDA站点在内的多个站点上,“剩余站点成本”被定义为“ [CE]根据CERCLA做出的响应成本”。 此外,作为一项单独和解的一部分,ASARCO同意允许就CDA场地提出索赔并向美国支付约4.82亿美元。 

2012年,ASARCO提起了一起律师案,指控这笔4.82亿美元是其在CDA站点上应承担的责任的多付,并寻求UP的捐助。 UP提出以2008年和解协议禁止ASARCO的索赔为由驳回此案。 尽管事实是 the term “剩余网站费用” referred only to claims for costs incurred by UP, 的 trial court dismissed ASARCO's claim, holding that "it is clear that 的 claim raised in 的 [Complaint] is precluded by 的 mutual release language of 的 [UP] Settlement.” ASARCO,LLC诉Union Pac。 R.R.,936 F.Supp.2d 1197,1204-05(D.Idaho 2013)。  On appeal, however, 的 第九巡回赛 did not believe it to be so "clear."  Rather, finding 的 language ambiguous, the Court remanded 的 case back to 的 District Court to review extrinsic evidence to determine 的 intent between 的 parties at 的 time 的 release was signed.  ASARCO LLC诉Union Pac。 R.R. Co.,765 F.3d 999,1009 (9th Cir. 2014).

13天后还还  bench trial, 的 district court ultimately concluded that 的 intent of 的 parties was for ASARCO to release all potential contribution claims against UP regarding 的 CDA Site.  ASARCO,LLC诉Union Pac。 R.R. Co., 2018 WL 3599967, at *23 (D. Idaho 七月 26, 2018). In fact, 的 District Court went further, noting that 的 evidence indicated 的 intent of 的 agreement was to have a ‘global resolution’ of all claims between ASARCO and UP regarding 的 CDA Site. ID。 在* 22。

In a remarkably terse opinion, particularly in light of both its initial 2014 decision and 的 extent of 的 evidence presented to 的 District Court, 的 第九巡回赛 affirmed 的 district court’s decision.  法院首先解释说 to overturn 的 lower court’s decision, it would have to conclude 的 lower court’的发现显然是错误的。 ASARCO LLC诉Union Pac。 R.R. Co.,2019 WL 3216615 ID。 以* 1(引用 以美国Fin。秒Litig。,《美国法典》第729卷第628、632页(第9卷,1984年)。根据该标准,尽管接受 that 的 claim at bar was likely not contemplated by 的 Settlement Agreement, 的 第九巡回赛 upheld 的 trial court's decision, finding sufficient evidence from which 的 lower court could have plausibly arrived at its conclusion. Rejecting ASARCO’s reference to countervailing evidence, 的 Court noted that pointing to contrary evidence in 的 record does not demonstrate a finding was clearly erroneous, and an agreement can include 的 release of unknown and unenumerated claims. ID。 (引用 美国诉弗兰克,956 F.2d 872、875(1991年第9年)和 马钦凯克&凯特诉纳特案联合消防局。,20 S.W. 3D 692,698(Tex。2000))。

毫无疑问,这种情况下的赌注肯定很高 warranting a two-week trial and two trips to 的 第九巡回赛, but it bears emphasis that 所有这些可能都有 been avoided with more careful attention to detail in 的 drafting of 的 Settlement Agreement.