No NJ Spill Act Damages Without Pollution Link, Court Says

September 26, 2012 – In The News
Law 360

David Restaino commented on the recent decision of the New Jersey Supreme Court, which ruled that the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) must establish a reasonable, evidence-based link between a hazardous discharge and environmental contamination to seek damages under the state's Spill Compensation and Control Act.

The case involved Sue's Clothes Hanger Inc., a laundromat and dry cleaning business that was sued by NJDEP under the Spill Act.

While the justices didn't overturn the lower court rulings, their findings on proximate cause, injunctive relief and the lack of a deminimis exception went in the DEP's favor, Restaino said, adding that the reasonable connection standard shouldn't have a large impact on its ability to prove cases.

“I don't view that as a really heavy lift, other than it's going to take some time and money in these kinds of cases to make that link,” said Restaino.