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In Re: Cotter Corporation

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Court: US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

Dockets: 21-1160, 21-1165

Opinion Date: January 7, 2022

Judge: William Duane Benton

Areas of Law: Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Personal Injury

This case law update is brought to you by Freeway Law auto accident and personal injury lawyers in Orange County. The following is not one of our cases, but it is of some significance, and we thought we should share it with our readers for informational purposes. The information above is for informational purposes only and not to be construed as legal advice.

This case stemmed from plaintiffs’ action alleging that nuclear waste materials from various St. Louis sites leaked into Coldwater Creek and its 100-year floodplain in St. Louis County, damaging their health and property. Following Cotter’s removal to federal court on the basis of the Price-Anderson Act (PAA), the district court concluded that the PAA did not apply and remanded to state court. After plaintiffs amended their complaint in state court, Cotter filed a third-party action for contribution against seven defendants, including Mallinckrodt, which then removed the entire lawsuit under the PAA and other bases. The district court granted the motion and Cotter appealed.

After determining that the court has jurisdiction over the appeal, the Eighth Circuit concluded that the district court abused its discretion by determining that the PAA does not apply to plaintiffs’ claims against Cotter because Cotter lacked an applicable license or indemnity agreement. Contrary to the district court’s ruling, the court concluded that the PAA provides federal question jurisdiction over all “nuclear incidents,” regardless of whether the defendant had an applicable license or indemnity agreement. The court explained that the PAA’s text and history support its conclusion. In this case, the PAA Act provides original federal question jurisdiction for all nuclear incidents regardless of whether the defendant had an applicable indemnity agreement.

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