Cases & Deals

Schnitzer Steel and MMGL win full affirmance by 9th Circuit of $14.8 million judgment for legal and equitable relief

Client(s) Schnitzer Steel Industries, Inc.

Two years after winning a jury verdict and an equitable award for broad declaratory relief, the Jones Day team on behalf of Schnitzer Steel Industries, Inc. and MMGL won a full affirmance by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in two consolidated appeals dealing with defense cost reimbursements arising out of the Portland Harbor Superfund Site. The defendants/appellants, nominally Continental Casualty Company and Transportation Insurance Company but (via “retrospective reinsurance”) actually Resolute Management, Inc. and National Indemnity Co., asserted multiple grounds for reversing the judgment. Following oral argument held in Portland, Oregon in May 2016, in a brief opinion, the 9th Circuit (per Judges Tallman, Hurwitz and Goodwin) rejected all of the asserted grounds for error. The appellate court therefore affirmed not only an award of $14.8 million in unpaid defense costs, interest and attorneys’ fees, but also confirmed that the defendants must make prompt payments on a going-forward basis. Schnitzer and MMGL are potentially responsible parties at the Portland Harbor Superfund Site, a marine sediment site that was placed on the National Priorities List in 2000. A remedy has yet to be selected for the approximately 11-mile stretch of the Willamette River in Portland. Therefore, as the interested parties work to determine the appropriate response at the site, the declaratory judgment protects Schnitzer’s and MMGL’s rights to appropriate reimbursement.

Schnitzer Steel Industries, Inc. et al v. Continental Casualty Company et al., Case 3:10-cv-01174-MO (D. Oregon)