Guam files opening brief in Ordot Dump case before US Supreme Court

Guam is asking the Supreme Court of the United States to reverse a lower court’s decision that would prohibit Guam from pursuing a claim against the Navy to contribute to the cost of cleaning Ordot Dump under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). (PNC file photo)

Guam has filed its opening brief at the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) in its case against the Navy.

According to the brief: For nearly half a century, the United States Navy discarded toxic waste at a dump that the Navy created in the 1940s on Guam without any environmental safeguards. The Navy then left Guam to clean up the site—a project that is likely to cost more than $160 million.

The Supreme Court of the U.S. (SCOTUS) accepts less than 1% of the cases they are asked to review, or only about 70 cases out of the 7,000 to 8,000 petitions filed each term. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case in January 2021. This is believed to be the first case involving the government of Guam that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear in over 15 years.

The questions presented in Guam’s appeal are:

● Whether a non- Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and
Liability Act (CERCLA) settlement can trigger a contribution claim under CERCLA
Section 113(f)(3)(B)
● Whether a settlement that expressly disclaims any liability determination and
leaves the settling party exposed to future liability can trigger a contribution claim
under CERCLA Section 113(f)(3)(B)

The United States has until March 24, 2021 to file its brief. Guam will then have an
opportunity to file a reply brief in early to mid-April. Oral arguments are expected to be
heard in mid to late-April.

(Guam AGO Release)