2017 ORS 465.340¹
Contractor liability
  • indemnification

(1)(a) A person who is a contractor with respect to any release of a hazardous substance from a facility shall not be liable under ORS 465.200 (Definitions for ORS 465.200 to 465.545) to 465.545 (Suspension of dry cleaning fees) and 465.900 (Civil penalties for violation of removal or remedial actions) or under any other state law to any person for injuries, costs, damages, expenses or other liability including but not limited to claims for indemnification or contribution and claims by third parties for death, personal injury, illness or loss of or damage to property or economic loss that result from such release.

(b) Paragraph (a) of this subsection shall not apply if the release is caused by conduct of the contractor that is negligent, reckless, willful or wanton misconduct or that constitutes intentional misconduct.

(c) Nothing in this subsection shall affect the liability of any other person under any warranty under federal, state or common law. Nothing in this subsection shall affect the liability of an employer who is a contractor to any employee of such employer under any provision of law, including any provision of any law relating to workers’ compensation.

(d) A state employee or an employee of a political subdivision who provides services relating to a removal or remedial action while acting within the scope of the person’s authority as a governmental employee shall have the same exemption from liability subject to the other provisions of this section, as is provided to the contractor under this section.

(2)(a) The exclusion provided by ORS 465.255 (Strict liability for remedial action costs for injury or destruction of natural resource) (2)(b)(C) shall not be available to any potentially responsible party with respect to any costs or damages caused by any act or omission of a contractor.

(b) Except as provided in subsection (1)(d) of this section and paragraph (a) of this subsection, nothing in this section shall affect the liability under ORS 465.200 (Definitions for ORS 465.200 to 465.545) to 465.545 (Suspension of dry cleaning fees) and 465.900 (Civil penalties for violation of removal or remedial actions) or under any other federal or state law of any person, other than a contractor.

(c) Nothing in this section shall affect the plaintiff’s burden of establishing liability under ORS 465.200 (Definitions for ORS 465.200 to 465.545) to 465.545 (Suspension of dry cleaning fees) and 465.900 (Civil penalties for violation of removal or remedial actions).

(3)(a) The Director of the Department of Environmental Quality may agree to hold harmless and indemnify any contractor meeting the requirements of this subsection against any liability, including the expenses of litigation or settlement, for negligence arising out of the contractor’s performance in carrying out removal or remedial action activities under ORS 465.200 (Definitions for ORS 465.200 to 465.545) to 465.545 (Suspension of dry cleaning fees) and 465.900 (Civil penalties for violation of removal or remedial actions), unless such liability was caused by conduct of the contractor which was grossly negligent, reckless, willful or wanton misconduct, or which constituted intentional misconduct.

(b) This subsection shall apply only to a removal or remedial action carried out under written agreement with:

(A) The director;

(B) Any state agency; or

(C) Any potentially responsible party carrying out any agreement under ORS 465.260 (Removal or remedial action) or 465.325 (Agreement to perform removal or remedial action).

(c) For purposes of ORS 465.200 (Definitions for ORS 465.200 to 465.545) to 465.545 (Suspension of dry cleaning fees) and 465.900 (Civil penalties for violation of removal or remedial actions), amounts expended from the fund for indemnification of any contractor shall be considered remedial action costs.

(d) An indemnification agreement may be provided under this subsection only if the director determines that each of the following requirements are met:

(A) The liability covered by the indemnification agreement exceeds or is not covered by insurance available, at a fair and reasonable price, to the contractor at the time the contractor enters into the contract to provide removal or remedial action, and adequate insurance to cover such liability is not generally available at the time the contract is entered into.

(B) The contractor has made diligent efforts to obtain insurance coverage.

(C) In the case of a contract covering more than one facility, the contractor agrees to continue to make diligent efforts to obtain insurance coverage each time the contractor begins work under the contract at a new facility.

(4)(a) Indemnification under this subsection shall apply only to a contractor liability which results from a release of any hazardous substance if the release arises out of removal or remedial action activities.

(b) An indemnification agreement under this subsection shall include deductibles and shall place limits on the amount of indemnification to be made available.

(c)(A) In deciding whether to enter into an indemnification agreement with a contractor carrying out a written contract or agreement with any potentially responsible party, the director shall determine an amount which the potentially responsible party is able to indemnify the contractor. The director may enter into an indemnification agreement only if the director determines that the amount of indemnification available from the potentially responsible party is inadequate to cover any reasonable potential liability of the contractor arising out of the contractor’s negligence in performing the contract or agreement with the party. In making the determinations required under this subparagraph related to the amount and the adequacy of the amount, the director shall take into account the total net assets and resources of the potentially responsible party with respect to the facility at the time the director makes the determinations.

(B) The director may pay a claim under an indemnification agreement referred to in subparagraph (A) of this paragraph for the amount determined under subparagraph (A) of this paragraph only if the contractor has exhausted all administrative, judicial and common law claims for indemnification against all potentially responsible parties participating in the cleanup of the facility with respect to the liability of the contractor arising out of the contractor’s negligence in performing the contract or agreement with the parties. The indemnification agreement shall require the contractor to pay any deductible established under paragraph (b) of this subsection before the contractor may recover any amount from the potentially responsible party or under the indemnification agreement.

(d) No owner or operator of a facility regulated under the federal Solid Waste Disposal Act, as amended, P.L. 96-482 and P.L. 98-616, may be indemnified under this subsection with respect to such facility.

(e) For the purposes of ORS 465.255 (Strict liability for remedial action costs for injury or destruction of natural resource), any amounts expended under this section for indemnification of any person who is a contractor with respect to any release shall be considered a remedial action cost incurred by the state with respect to the release.

(5) The exemption provided under subsection (1) of this section and the authority of the director to offer indemnification under subsection (3) of this section shall not apply to any person liable under ORS 465.255 (Strict liability for remedial action costs for injury or destruction of natural resource) with respect to the release or threatened release concerned if the person would be covered by the provisions even if the person had not carried out any actions referred to in subsection (6) of this section.

(6) As used in this section:

(a) “Contract” means any written contract or agreement to provide any removal or remedial action under ORS 465.200 (Definitions for ORS 465.200 to 465.545) to 465.545 (Suspension of dry cleaning fees) and 465.900 (Civil penalties for violation of removal or remedial actions) at a facility, or any removal under ORS 465.200 (Definitions for ORS 465.200 to 465.545) to 465.545 (Suspension of dry cleaning fees) and 465.900 (Civil penalties for violation of removal or remedial actions), with respect to any release of a hazardous substance from the facility or to provide any evaluation, planning, engineering, surveying and mapping, design, construction, equipment or any ancillary services thereto for such facility, that is entered into by a contractor as defined in paragraph (b)(A) of this subsection with:

(A) The director;

(B) Any state agency; or

(C) Any potentially responsible party carrying out an agreement under ORS 465.260 (Removal or remedial action) or 465.325 (Agreement to perform removal or remedial action).

(b) “Contractor” means:

(A) Any person who enters into a removal or remedial action contract with respect to any release of a hazardous substance from a facility and is carrying out such contract; and

(B) Any person who is retained or hired by a person described in subparagraph (A) of this paragraph to provide any services relating to a removal or remedial action.

(c) “Insurance” means liability insurance that is fair and reasonably priced, as determined by the director, and that is made available at the time the contractor enters into the removal or remedial action contract to provide removal or remedial action. [Formerly 466.585; 1991 c.692 §2]

1 Legislative Counsel Committee, CHAPTER 465—Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Materials I, https://­www.­oregonlegislature.­gov/­bills_laws/­ors/­ors465.­html (2017) (last ac­cessed Mar. 30, 2018).
 
2 OregonLaws.org contains the con­tents of Volume 21 of the ORS, inserted along­side the per­tin­ent statutes. See the preface to the ORS An­no­ta­tions for more information.
 
3 OregonLaws.org assembles these lists by analyzing references between Sections. Each listed item refers back to the current Section in its own text. The result reveals relationships in the code that may not have otherwise been apparent.