For those law school ADR Evangelists looking for opportunities to woo colleagues from other doctrinal disciplines, the Anadarko / Kerr-McGee settlement yesterday should have you scrambling to talk with your faculty colleagues in Environmental Law and in Bankruptcy.
My short (and admittedly potentially still not as well-informed as it should be) version is this:
Kerr-McGee, an Energy & Chemical company, had among other things in its portfolio, considerable environmental damage associated with its nuclear fuel, wood creosote, and rocket fuel. At some point, Kerr-McGee spun off a company called Tronox, which incurred many of those environmental liabilities. Not terribly long after that, Anadarko Petroleum bought Kerr-McGee. Tronox fell into bankruptcy.
A trust representing the U.S., about a dozen states, and some tribes, sued Andarko and Kerr-McGee, and they argued that Andarko and Kerr-McGee should assume the responsibility for the Tronox portfolio of environmental liabilities. The US Attorney involved called it a “corporate shell game” aimed at avoiding liability. And that argument won the day.
The settlement is larger than the BP Settlement (although without the publicity). It includes $4.4B in various settlement trusts around the country. Pretty DOJ graphic available here.
Michael Moffitt is the Dean for University of Oregon School of Law, Orlando J. and Marian H. Hollis Professor of Law, and Associate Director, ADR Center.
Before joining the Oregon law faculty in 2001, Michael Moffitt served as the clinical supervisor for the mediation program at Harvard Law School and taught negotiation at Harvard Law School and at the Ohio State University College of Law. Following a federal judicial clerkship, he spent several years with Conflict Management Group, consulting on negotiation and dispute resolution projects around the world. Professor Moffitt has published more than twenty scholarly articles on mediation, negotiation, and civil procedure. He co-edited The Handbook of Dispute Resolution (Jossey-Bass, 2005), an award-winning compilation of 31 original chapters by leading scholars and practitioners in the field. He also co-authored the innovative, student-focused book, Dispute Resolution: Examples & Explanations (Aspen 2008). The Provost of the University of Oregon named Professor Moffitt in the first group of recipients of a five-year award from the Oregon Fund for Faculty Excellence. The Oregon law school faculty awarded Professor Moffitt with the law school's Orlando J. Hollis Faculty Teaching Award. He is also the recipient of the University's Ersted Award for Distinguished Teaching. He is a devoted but mediocre snowboarder, an aggressive tennis player, and an avid wine taster. He spends most of his energy in a futile effort to keep up with his daughters.