In a much anticipated decision, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled today in Morristown Associates v. Grant Oil Co. that the general six-year statute of limitations for injury to real property is not applicable to claims made pursuant to the New Jersey Spill Compensation and Control Act (“Spill Act”). In reaching this decision, the Court noted that the Spill Act sets forth the only defenses available to contribution defendants and a statute of limitations defense is not included. Further, the Court explained that the New Jersey Legislature could not have intended for an unreferenced statute of limitations to impede the Spill Act’s imposition of contribution liability on responsible parties.
This case has significant implications. Parties performing remedial activities can proceed with the understanding that there is no time limit to file a contribution action. In doing so, plaintiffs will encounter less difficulty when attempting to recoup some, or all, of the costs associated with a New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection approved cleanup. A more in-depth analysis will follow.
Please feel free to contact Richard Ericsson, the Chair of the Environmental Department, with any questions.