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Despite the Supreme Court's 2004 ruling in Cooper Industries vs. Availl Services Inc., U.S. courts of appeal have split over the question of whether a party that conducts a voluntary cleanup of a contaminated site may seek compensation from other parties that contributed to the contamination.
The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which heard Atlantic Research Corp. vs. United States, and the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which heard Consolidated Edison vs. UGI Utilities, both have said such action is permitted.
However, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which heard E.I. DuPont de Nemours vs. United States, has held that a party itself must first be sued by the government before it can sue for compensation from other parties.