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United States v. Bestfoods - Significance, Don't Drink The Water, Shifting The Burden To The Responsible Parties, A Question Of Parenthood

cpc petitioner chemical decision


United States


CPC International Inc. (later renamed Bestfoods), Aerojet-General Corporation, Cordova Chemical Company, Cordova Chemical Company of Michigan

Petitioner's Claim

That CPC International was liable, under Section 107(a)(2) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) for costs of cleaning up industrial waste at a former subsidiary's chemical plant.

Justices for the Court

Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Anthony M. Kennedy, Sandra Day O'Connor, William H. Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia, David H. Souter (writing for the Court), John Paul Stevens, Clarence Thomas

Justices Dissenting



Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

8 June 1998


That the petitioner had failed to establish CPC/Bestfoods's parental responsibility, either in a direct or derivative sense, for the environmental damage in question.

Related Cases

  • Chicago, M. & St. P. R. Co. v. Minneapolis Civic and Commerce Assn., 247 U.S. 490 (1918).
  • Edmonds v. Compagnie Generale Transatlantique, 443 U.S. 256 (1979).
  • Exxon Corp. v. Hunt, 475 U.S. 355 (1986).
  • Pennsylvania v. Union Gas Co., 491 U.S. 1 (1989).
  • United States v. Texas, 507 U.S. 529 (1993).
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