Key Tronic Corp. v. United States, 511 U.S. 809, 6 (1994)

Page:   Index   Previous  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  Next



Opinion of the Court

for other responsible parties and for negotiating the consent decree. "Because Congress has not explicitly authorized private litigants to recover their legal expenses incurred in a private cost recovery action," the District Court's award of attorney's fees could not stand. 984 F. 2d, at 1028. Judge Canby dissented, reasoning that Congress' 1986 amendment of the definition of "response" meant to authorize the recovery of attorney's fees even in private litigants' cost recovery actions. Ibid.

Other courts addressing this question have differed over the extent to which attorney's fees are a necessary cost of response under CERCLA. See General Electric Co. v. Litton Industrial Automation Systems, Inc., 920 F. 2d 1415 (CA8 1990) (fees recoverable); Donahey v. Bogle, 987 F. 2d 1250, 1256 (CA6 1993) (same); Juniper Development Group v. Kahn, 993 F. 2d 915, 933 (CA1 1993) (litigation fees not recoverable); FMC Corp. v. Aero Industries, Inc., 998 F. 2d 842 (CA10 1993) (only nonlitigation fees may be recoverable). We granted certiorari to resolve the conflict. 510 U. S. 1023 (1993).


As its name implies, CERCLA is a comprehensive statute that grants the President broad power to command government agencies and private parties to clean up hazardous waste sites. Sections 104 and 106 provide the framework for federal abatement and enforcement actions that the President, the EPA as his delegated agent, or the Attorney General initiates. 42 U. S. C. 9604, 9606. These actions typically require private parties to incur substantial costs in removing hazardous wastes and responding to hazardous conditions. Section 107 sets forth the scope of the liabilities that may be imposed on private parties and the defenses that they may assert. 42 U. S. C. 9607.

Our cases establish that attorney's fees generally are not a recoverable cost of litigation "absent explicit congressional authorization." Runyon v. McCrary, 427 U. S. 160, 185

Page:   Index   Previous  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  Next

Last modified: October 4, 2007