Application of the Abnormally Dangerous Activities Doctrine to Environmental Cleanups

James Ming Chen, Michigan State University College of Law
Kyle E. McSlarrow


The common law tort doctrine of strict liability for abnormally dangerous activities is emerging as a key element of the law of hazardous substance regulation, which has been dominated by CERCLA. The abnormally dangerous activities doctrine exhibits a formidable potential for expansion. Together with the related torts of nuisance and trespass, strict liability for abnormally dangerous activities have already begun to complement CERCLA's scheme for allocating the costs of cleaning hazardous waste sites. The revitalized application of the abnormally dangerous activities doctrine to environmental cleanups may affect insurance coverage.