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New Jersey Spill Act Claim Subject To Statute Of Limitations

The Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court has decided that private claims for contribution pursuant to the New Jersey Spill Compensation and Control Act (Spill Act) are subject to a statute of limitations.  In the case of Morristown Associates v. Grant Oil Company, the plaintiff argued that because the Spill Act states that the “only defenses” which may be raised by a Spill Act defendant are the statutory defenses listed in the Spill Act itself, and because a statute of limitations is not one of those defenses, there is no statute of limitations applicable to a Spill Act contribution claim.  The Appellate Division rejected that argument, ruling that the general six-year statute of limitations for damage to property applies to a private claim for contribution pursuant to the Spill Act.  The Court also decided that the recognized “discovery rule” may extend the time limitation based on when the injured party discovers, or by an exercise of reasonable diligence and intelligence should have discovered that he may have the basis for an actionable claim.

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About this Author

Paul H. Schneider, GIordano Law Firm, Litigation Attorney

Mr. Schneider, co-chair of the Litigation Practice Area, focuses his practice in environmental, redevelopment, land use, regulatory, real estate and affordable housing law, and litigation. Mr. Schneider also handles a wide variety of redevelopment matters as well as corporate and commercial litigation. In addition to handling major litigation before both the state and federal courts and the Office of Administrative Law, he has extensive experience before the New Jersey Supreme Court and the Appellate Division.