Can a court bar a cross-claim by a non-settling defendant against a settling defendant in order to facilitate a settlement?

Yes.  In multi-party CERCLA contribution actions, courts routinely bar cross-claims by non-settling defendants against settling defendants in order to facilitate settlements.   Under the “settlement bar rule” a co-defendant does not have a right of contribution against a settling defendant.   The rationale underlying this rule is to protect the finality of settlements.

The plaintiffs will often claim that the non-settling defendants will be protected since the amount of the contribution claims against them is reduced by settling party’s equitable share.  The plaintiff will also claim that Section 6 of the UCFA should apply which provides that the liability of non-settling defendants shall be reduced by the amount of any settling party’s equitable share of the obligation. As a general rule, courts allocate CERCLA response costs under either the UCFA or the UCATA.

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