Publication Date


Document Type

Survey Article


In 2021, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama, in an issue of first impression, concluded that the United States is not a “person” under the contribution provision of the Oil Pollution Act (OPA), and therefore the provision did not waive the sovereign immunity of the United States. For this and other reasons a plaintiff could not recover in contribution from the United States for the plaintiff’s costs of cleaning up an oil spill, even where the plaintiff alleged the spill was the result of the sole negligence of the United States. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia issued a dispositive ruling in the long-running dispute between Alabama and Georgia over the United States Corps of Engineers’ (Corps) allocation of water from Lake Lanier to municipal water supply in the metro Atlanta area. The court granted summary judgment to the Corps and affirmed that the Corps’ decision to allocate water for that purpose, including by direct withdrawals of water from the lake, and the Corps’ accompanying Environmental Impact Statement regarding that decision, was reasonable. Finally, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia ruled that a plaintiff had successfully stated claims against multiple defendants related to the supply, use, and disposal of toxic chemicals used in the manufacture of carpet that resulted in the contamination of surface water in the Coosa River Basin in northwestern Georgia and ultimately the contamination of the drinking water supply of Rome, Georgia.