Key Tronic Corp. v. United States, 511 U.S. 809, 5 (1994)

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Cite as: 511 U. S. 809 (1994)

Opinion of the Court

Force's settlement with the EPA. 766 F. Supp. 865, 868 (ED Wash. 1991). Section 107(a) provides that responsible parties are liable for "any . . . necessary costs of response incurred by any other person consistent with the national contingency plan." 4 42 U. S. C. 9607(a)(4)(B). CERCLA's definitional 101(25), as amended by SARA, provides that "response" or "respond" "means remove, removal, remedy, and remedial action" and that "all such terms (including the terms 'removal' and 'remedial action') include enforcement activities related thereto." 42 U. S. C. 9601(25). Construing 107 and 101(25) "liberally to achieve the overall objectives of the statute," 766 F. Supp., at 872, the District Court concluded that a private party may incur enforcement costs and that such costs include attorney's fees for bringing a cost recovery action under 107. Id., at 871. The court went on to decide that attorney's fees encompassed within Key Tronic's PRP search costs also were recoverable as an enforcement activity under CERCLA, id., at 872, and that the costs Key Tronic's attorneys incurred in negotiating the agreement with the EPA were recoverable as necessary response costs under 107.5

The Court of Appeals reversed. 984 F. 2d 1025, 1028 (CA9 1993). Relying on its decision in Stanton Road Associates v. Lohrey Enterprises, 984 F. 2d 1015 (CA9 1993), which prohibited a litigant in a private response cost recovery action from obtaining attorney's fees from a party responsible for the pollution, the court held that the District Court lacked authority to award attorney's fees in this case. 984 F. 2d, at 1027. The court concluded that Stanton Road likewise precluded an award of attorney's fees for Key Tronic's search

4 The EPA promulgated the national contingency plan as a regulation pursuant to CERCLA 105, 42 U. S. C. 9605. It is codified at 40 CFR pt. 300 (1993).

5 The court indicated that these expenses were necessary response costs within the meaning of 107(a)(4)(B) regardless of whether they constituted costs of " 'enforcement activities' " under 101(25). 766 F. Supp., at 872.

813

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