A federal court in Montana has ruled in favor of McGuireWoods client Asarco
LLC in a significant environmental case, ordering Atlantic Richfield Co. to
pay Asarco $28 million toward the cleanup of a Montana Superfund site.
Gregory Evans is Asarco’s lead trial lawyer.
Copper mining giant Asarco sued Atlantic Richfield seeking repayment for
some of the $114 million Asarco paid the Environmental Protection Agency
and the state of Montana to clean arsenic from groundwater near its former
East Helena Smelter complex. Atlantic Richfield’s predecessor, The Anaconda
Co., operated a slag reprocessing facility on the Asarco property for 45
years. Atlantic Richfield denied any releases of arsenic, a position
rejected by the U.S. District Court.
“Asarco produced substantial and convincing evidence establishing that
these Anaconda releases resulted in the migration of arsenic into the
groundwater, which directly contributed to the arsenic plumes that are
driving the East Helena site cleanup,” the court ruled.
The court initially dismissed Asarco’s lawsuit in 2014, but the 9th U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the ruling last year, providing needed
clarity on when a settling party such as Asarco can seek contribution from
nonsettling parties under the Comprehensive Environmental Response,
Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). Evans argued the case at the
The district court’s June 26 decision marks another important milestone in
Asarco’s efforts to claw back millions of dollars from parties that
contributed to contamination at sites Asarco paid to clean up under its
settlement in the largest environmental bankruptcy in U.S. history, Evans
“The court’s judgment provides a very good example for companies eager to
do what is right for the environment and for communities,” Evans said. “It
demonstrates that our primary federal environmental law — CERCLA — works as
designed, encouraging companies to settle environmental liabilities,
quickly putting needed resources into environmental cleanup, allowing
settling parties to pursue contribution later.”
The National Law Journal
honored Evans in its
Energy and Environmental Trailblazers issue as a pioneer in environmental litigation, citing his work
representing Asarco. Evans also earned recognition in Financial Times’
prestigious North America Innovative Lawyers report and in Law360 as an “Environmental MVP.”
Headquartered in Tucson, Arizona, Asarco is an integrated copper mining,
smelting and refining company. Its parent company is Grupo Mexico.