Key Tronic Corp. v. United States, 511 U.S. 809, 2 (1994)

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810

KEY TRONIC CORP. v. UNITED STATES

Syllabus

provision either in 107 or in 113, which expressly authorizes contribution claims, strongly suggest a deliberate decision not to authorize such awards in the kind of private cost recovery action that is at issue. Third, it would stretch the plain terms of the phrase "enforcement activities" too far to construe it as encompassing such an action. Pp. 816-819. (c) Unlike litigation-related fees, the component of Key Tronic's claim covering activities performed in identifying other PRP's constitutes a "necessary cos[t] of response" recoverable under 107(a)(4)(B). Such work might well be performed by engineers, chemists, private investigators, or other professionals who are not lawyers, and fees for its performance are clearly distinguishable from litigation expenses governed by the American rule under Alyeska. The District Court recognized the role such efforts played in uncovering the Air Force's disposal of wastes at the site and in prompting the EPA to initiate enforcement action against the Air Force. Tracking down other responsible solvent polluters increases the probability that a cleanup will be effective and get paid for. Key Tronic is therefore quite right to claim that these activities significantly benefited the entire cleanup effort and served a statutory purpose apart from the reallocation of costs. Pp. 819-820. (d) However, fees for the legal services performed in connection with the negotiations between Key Tronic and the EPA that culminated in the consent decree do not constitute "necessary costs of response." Although studies that Key Tronic's counsel prepared or supervised during those negotiations may indeed have aided the EPA and may also have affected the cleanup's ultimate scope and form, such work must be viewed as primarily protecting Key Tronic's interests as a defendant in the proceedings that established the extent of its liability. Pp. 820-821.

984 F. 2d 1025, affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.

Stevens, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Rehnquist, C. J., and O'Connor, Kennedy, Souter, and Ginsburg, JJ., joined. Scalia, J., filed an opinion dissenting in part, in which Blackmun and Thomas, JJ., joined, post, p. 821.

Mark W. Schneider argued the cause for petitioner. With him on the briefs were James R. Moore, Michael Himes, and Kathryn L. Tucker.

Deputy Solicitor General Wallace argued the cause for the United States. With him on the briefs were Solicitor General Days, Acting Assistant Attorney General Schiffer,

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