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The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act ("CERCLA") was enacted to provide a framework for the cleanup of hazardous waste, and to allocate the cost of cleanup to those who create or maintain hazardous conditions. The question before the Second Circuit was a novel one: whether CERCLA creates a subcontractor's right of recovery against a landowner, when the landowner has already paid the contractor in full.

The Cleanup

Norampac discovered that the soil at the one of its sites was contaminated with lead, so Norampac contracted with AAA Environmental, Inc. for the cleanup. AAA subcontracted with Price Trucking, and Price Trucking completed all of its work.

The ripples of the financial crisis that spun out of control in the fall of 2008 are now being felt as shareholder suits progress through the judicial system. Maurice "Hank" Greenberg is not only AIG's former CEO, his company, Starr International Co., had a 12% stake in AIG, making it AIG's largest shareholder. Last week, the Second Circuit dealt a blow to one of his two cases in federal court, reports Reuters.

2008 Financial Crisis

In September 2008, AIG alerted the Federal Reserve Bank of New York ("FRBNY") that it may have to file for bankruptcy. To avoid further financial catastrophe, the FRBNY entered a credit agreement with AIG to prevent bankruptcy, effectively giving the federal government an 80% interest in AIG's common stock. Successive financial vehicles and agreements were utilized as rescue deals to prevent AIG from failing.

Perhaps the Second Circuit is already in a pre-Thanksgiving, turkey tryptophan-induced food coma, but so far it's been a not-so busy week for the court as far as precedential decisions. But, there is some important news coming out of the circuit that is worth noting.

Anyone remember that pair of Nicholas Cage abominations masquerading as "superhero films" from a few years back? Yeah. Those were awful. They also led to this lawsuit.

Though Marvel already had a horse-riding "Ghost Rider" character as early as 1966, freelance writer Gary Friedrich proposed a man on a motorcycle in 1972. Credit for the flaming skull head and the "pact with Satan to save [loved one's] life" cliché are still in dispute.

Quick primer on disputing a debt under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act:

Debt collector sends a notice containing the familiar admonition that "this is an attempt to collect a debt. Any information collected will be used for that purpose." It also tells the debtor that if they believe the debt to be invalid, they must dispute the debt within thirty days. If they do so, the debt collector is required to "verify" the debt before continuing collection efforts.

There's one small ambiguity in the statute, however. Note the difference between the following two provisions, § 1692g(a)(3) and (4):

After a few days of a barren bench issuing no decisions of note, today we were graced with a handful. We're so excited by the ending of the drought, that today, we're giving you a double dose of Second Circuit fun: felons with firearms and insurance company windfalls.

Second Circuit Talks Second Amendment - For Felons

A felon is caught with both body armor and firearms. This is obviously a problem. Yet, Gary Bogle argued, with a straight face, that the Supreme Court's recent jurisprudence in the Second Amendment arena, namely District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. City of Chicago developed a more expansive interpretation of the Amendment and by extension, gave the right to firearm possession back to felons.

Gifts of the Magi Are No Match for Vatican Choice of Forum Clause

If you’re in the business of making Catholic-branded gifts, it seems like you wouldn’t want to irk the Vatican. But Magi XXI decided that it wasn’t getting a fair shake in a sublicensing deal with Vatican Publishing, so it actually sued the Holy See.

The Vatican, however, doesn’t answer to just any higher power; it litigates in its own courts, governed by its own laws.

William Shatner's Seductive Powers Don't Create a Fiduciary Duty

Customers may think of Priceline.com with warm and fuzzy feelings thanks to travel discounts and former spokesman William Shatner, but the site doesn't have a fiduciary duty to disclose its discount-dealing profits to consumers.

Plaintiffs Lee Johnson and Joey Marie Kelly initiated a putative class action against Priceline for breach of fiduciary duty and contract arising from Priceline's alleged failure to disclose to its "Name Your Own Price" customers that a successful bid for a hotel room will generally exceed the amount Priceline pays the hotel vendor. Priceline retains the difference as profit.

Contractor Loses Retaliation Appeal Against Corps of Engineers

MES, Inc claims that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers unfairly terminated three of its construction/renovation contracts in retaliation for MES’s criticism of the Corps’ mismanagement of construction projects. After an administrative challenge, MES brought a Bivens action in federal court.

The district court dismissed their claim, finding that it was precluded by the Contract Disputes Act (CDA).

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals, in a matter of first impression, affirmed that decision. The ruling brings the Second Circuit in line with the Seventh and Ninth Circuits, as well as the district courts that have considered the issue.

Federal Common Law Control 'Arbitration' Under FAA

Does federal common law or state law provide the meaning of "arbitration" within the Federal Arbitration Act?

According to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, Congress intended national uniformity regarding the interpretation of the term "arbitration," and therefore federal common law controls.