Bad Tanks Make Bad Neighbors: Appellate Division Approves Equitable Sharing of Costs to Investigate Underground Storage Tank Leak at Condominium

In a recent decision, the Appellate Division upheld a Chancery Division injunction ordering five neighboring condominium owners to share the costs of investigating a discharge before the plaintiff condominium owner could demonstrate which, if any, of its neighbors contributed to the contamination.  Matejek v. Watson, Docket No. A-4683-14 (App. Div. Mar. 3, 2017).

Equity Prevails Over Technicality: NJ Court Finds Defense of Laches Bars Spill Act Claim

A New Jersey trial court recently determined that the equitable defense of laches can bar a private-party claim for contribution under the New Jersey Spill Compensation and Control Act (the “Spill Act”).  22 Temple Avenue, Inc. v. Audino, Inc., et al., Docket No. BER-L-9337-14 (Law Div. Oct. 5, 2016).  This is a seemingly surprising decision considering that just last year the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that there is no statute of limitations defense for private-party contribution actions under the Spill Act.  

New Jersey Appellate Division Holds Environmental Escrow in Condemnation Cases Set at Cost of Remediation to Achieve Highest and Best Use

In New Jersey, governmental entities with the power of condemnation have long battled with owners of real property over the compensation that the government must pay for condemned property.  One important issue in these clashes has been the impact of environmental contamination on the valuation of real property and the cost of the investigation and remediation of contamination for which the property owner is otherwise liable. 

Dirty Dirt or Clean Fill – Absent Proof It’s Dirty, New Jersey Court Says No Liability for Disposal of Clean Fill

In recent years, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”) has focused on addressing the improper disposal of contaminated soil, which can result in soil piles that create environmental and health risks from polluted run-off.  To address one such site, in 2011 the NJDEP filed suit alleging that an approximately 60-foot high contaminated soil stockpile in Woodbridge, New Jersey had been operated as an illegal landfill for over 11 years.  

New York Extends Statute of Limitations for Superfund Site Tort Claims

The New York State Legislature recently passed a law allowing plaintiffs to pursue “personal damages” for injuries caused by “exposure to any substance or combination of substances contained within an area designated as a [S]uperfund site” under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (“CERCLA”) or New York’s Environmental Conservation Law within three years after the site’s designation. 

Current Owner Is Not Liable Under CERCLA For Cleanup Costs Incurred Prior to Ownership

In a recent case, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection v. Trainer Custom Chemical, ---- F. Supp. 3rd --- (2016), 2016 WL 4525451, the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania found that a current owner of contaminated property is not liable under Section 107(a)(1) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA”) for cleanup costs incurred prior to ownership.  Trainer limits current owner liability under CERCLA to only those costs incurred after the owner takes title to the contaminated site.