Real Property & Environmental Law Alert Blog

Settlors Beware: A Recent NJ District Court Decision Has the Potential to Have Far Reaching Impacts on Parties Entering into Settlements Under CERCLA

Settlors Beware: A Recent NJ District Court Decision Has the Potential to Have Far Reaching Impacts on Parties Entering into Settlements Under CERCLA

A recent decision from the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey may throw a new wrinkle into the already complex settlement process under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). Specifically, the decision addresses the question of what claims are included in the “matters addressed” in a settlement and entitled to contribution protection. On July 23, 2018, in N.J. Dep’t of Envtl. Prot. v. Am. Thermoplastics Corp, et al., Judge William H. Walls granted summary judgment in favor of the third-party defendants Carter Day Industries, Inc. (CDI), Combe Fill Corporation (CFC), and Combustion Equipment Associates, Inc. (“CEA”) (collectively, “Carter Day Parties”). Judge Walls held that the Carter Day Parties are entitled to contribution protection from claims for CERCLA costs incurred by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) based on a settlement agreement between the Carter Day Parties and the State of New Jersey, notwithstanding that USEPA was not a party to the settlement. In following, the five-count first amended complaint of the third-party plaintiffs’ Compaction Systems Corporation of Connecticut, Inc. and Compaction Systems Corporation of New Jersey (together, “Compaction”) was dismissed with prejudice. The five counts of the complaint were: i) cost recovery...

Split Ninth Circuit Grants Government’s Interlocutory Appeal in Youths’ Climate Change Suit

Split Ninth Circuit Grants Government’s Interlocutory Appeal in Youths’ Climate Change Suit

In 2015, 21 youth plaintiffs, ranging in age from eight to 19 at the time of filing, brought a constitutional climate-change lawsuit against the United States alleging that the United States and various executive branch agencies discriminate against younger generations with policies that contribute to and exacerbate climate change in violation of their constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property. The plaintiffs seek an order enjoining current governmental policies and adopting a plan to curb excessive carbon dioxide emissions. The government unsuccessfully sought to have the case dismissed, and when that failed, sought mandamus from the Ninth Circuit directing the district court to dismiss the suit. Recently, after a trip up to the United States Supreme Court and back down to the Oregon District Court, the Ninth Circuit ultimately agreed by a 2-1 majority to allow the defendants’ mandamus petition to proceed. The majority noted that interlocutory appeals under 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b) are generally only authorized when a district court order “involves a controlling question of law as to which there is substantial ground for difference of opinion” and found “an immediate appeal from the order may materially advance the ultimate termination of the litigation.” The plaintiffs allege that...

Recap: IRS Convenes Public Hearing on Proposed Regulations for Opportunity Zones

Recap: IRS Convenes Public Hearing on Proposed Regulations for Opportunity Zones

Jason J. Redd, a Director in the Gibbons Government & Regulatory Affairs Department attended an overflowing public hearing on February 14 convened by the Internal Revenue Service for the purpose of obtaining input from stakeholders concerning the initial proposed regulations for Opportunity Zones (OZ) issued in October. The IRS is reviewing comments on the first round of proposed rules and is expected to issue the next round of proposed regulations in March, with the potential for final regulations to be issued in late spring. Witnesses at the packed hearing included state cabinet officials, as well as representatives from state economic development groups, small businesses, community reinvestment coalitions, investment funds, and technology and planning organizations, among others. Testimony focused on ensuring that program regulations maximize investment and economic growth by generating new development, capital, and jobs in the distressed communities where OZs are located. There was also a clear call, by all in attendance, for clarity and flexibility in the next round of rules. Suggestions included: (i) modifying the rules to provide more flexibility to investors when exiting Qualified Opportunity Fund (QOF) investments, which is currently limited to a sale of the QOF investment itself; (ii) minimizing sourcing and location rules...

NJ Appellate Division Announces Evidentiary Standards for Condemnations “Necessary” for a Redevelopment Project

NJ Appellate Division Announces Evidentiary Standards for Condemnations “Necessary” for a Redevelopment Project

At what point is a piece of property “necessary” for a redevelopment project? On January 7, 2019, the New Jersey Appellate Division published a decision in Borough of Glassboro v. Jack Grossman, Matthew Roche, and Dan Desilvio, — N.J. Super. — (App. Div. 2019) (slip op. at 2) that – for the first time – clarifies the phrase “necessary for the redevelopment project” as stated in the Local Redevelopment and Housing Law (LRHL) at N.J.S.A. 40A:12A-8(c). The three-judge panel addressed the question of whether a showing of necessity is required by a condemning authority beyond the designation of the area as one in need of redevelopment, and, what showing it must make in order to condemn a parcel of land located with a redevelopment area. Existing case law required the taking to be “reasonably necessary,” but had never clarified what standards should be used to evaluate how necessary a given property might be to a given redevelopment project. This decision now requires that when a landowner within a redevelopment area contests the necessity of a condemnation, the condemning authority must articulate a definitive need to acquire the parcel for an identified redevelopment project. In Grossman, the defendants owned or were...

Plaintiffs Must Cast a Wide Net for Spill Act Claims

Plaintiffs Must Cast a Wide Net for Spill Act Claims

The New Jersey Appellate Division has applied the doctrine of judicial estoppel to uphold the dismissal of a Spill Act contribution action on the grounds that the plaintiffs failed to seek contribution from all potentially responsible parties that were known (or reasonably knowable) in an earlier action. The court ruled that the application of judicial estoppel in the case before it was consistent with the Spill Act’s objective to cast a wide net over those responsible for hazardous substances and their discharge on the land and waters of the state. “Plaintiffs are precluded from floating a lazy cast toward one discharger and then shooting a second line toward others, seeking contribution for cleanup of the same property.” The plaintiffs in Terranova v. Gen. Elec. Pension Trust (Docket No. A-5699-16T3), owners of commercial property that had long been used as a gas station, brought this action in 2015. The defendants were owners/operators of the property from 1960 through 1980, during which time soil and groundwater at the property had allegedly been contaminated by three underground storage tanks. Of consequence to the court’s decision, the plaintiffs had previously filed an action in 2010 against two separate individuals that had operated the gas station from...

Gibbons to Exhibit at ICSC New York Deal Making Conference on Wednesday and Thursday

Gibbons to Exhibit at ICSC New York Deal Making Conference on Wednesday and Thursday

The Gibbons Real Property Department will once again exhibit at the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) New York Deal Making Conference at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on December 5-6. Stop by our booth, #2411, and meet with some of the Department’s attorneys who will be attending (Click here to view the Deal Making floor plan). Show hours are Wednesday, December 5, from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, and Thursday, December 6, from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm. We look forward to seeing you there!

“Housing is Health Care”: New Jersey HMFA Launches Program for Supportive Housing Partnership with Hospitals

“Housing is Health Care”: New Jersey HMFA Launches Program for Supportive Housing Partnership with Hospitals

The New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (HMFA), in collaboration with the New Jersey Hospital Association, has announced a pilot subsidy program to promote investment by hospitals throughout New Jersey in affordable and supportive housing. The program was previously endorsed by the New Jersey Hospital Association’s Board of Trustees. Following a number of recent studies highlighting the interconnection between stable, safe, and affordable housing and maintaining a higher quality of life, HMFA created a partnership program for New Jersey’s hospitals and affordable housing developers to try and fill a notable void in supportive housing. Hospitals are encouraged to work with developers to target housing for special needs residents or users of frequent emergency room services. HMFA anticipates the projects would consist of 60-70 units and can include mixed-use space for doctors’ offices, clinics, or other community uses. Approximately ten of the units would be set aside for low-income households (50 percent of gross median income), and the remainder would be restricted to households of moderate income (80 percent of gross median income). The program, currently funded with $12 million, seeks to match funding contributions from hospitals up to $4 million to fund three or four projects in New Jersey. The...

Gibbons Clients Unveil Final Phase of Major Jersey City Real Estate Project

Gibbons Clients Unveil Final Phase of Major Jersey City Real Estate Project

Longtime Gibbons clients Ironstate Development Co. and Panepinto Properties have unveiled the final phase of a major joint real estate project with residential, retail, and hospitality components in the heart of Jersey City and with direct access to the Grove Street PATH station. A team of Gibbons attorneys has represented the Ironstate and Panepinto joint venture on the Columbus project since its inception, advising our clients over the course of a decade and three significant project phases, which industry publication Real Estate NJ recently summarized.

NJABC Suspends New Limited Brewery Rules

NJABC Suspends New Limited Brewery Rules

Less than two weeks after issuing it, the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (NJABC) has suspended its Special Ruling that imposed new regulations on Limited Brewery Licensees. The Special Ruling released in late September included restrictions on, among other things, special events and entertainment at Limited Breweries. In its announcement, the NJABC stated that the suspension of the restrictions will provide the opportunity to engage in further conversations with craft breweries and other alcoholic beverage license holders about the impact of the Special Ruling. The NJABC is also poised to work with state legislators to determine whether new legislation is needed to update the law that prompted the Special Ruling. Michael D. DeLoreto, an Associate in the Gibbons Government & Regulatory Affairs Department, and Jennifer P. Smith, a Director in the Gibbons Real Property Department, authored this post. This blog also appeared on the Gibbons Government & Regulatory Affairs Alert on October 3, 2018.

EPA Provides Guidance to BFPPs Regarding Their Ability to Receive Reimbursement from EPA Superfund Special Accounts

EPA Provides Guidance to BFPPs Regarding Their Ability to Receive Reimbursement from EPA Superfund Special Accounts

One underused provision in the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) makes Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Superfund Special Accounts available for reimbursement to Bona Fide Prospective Purchasers (BFPPs). This provision has received greater scrutiny by EPA following the creation of the Superfund Task Force (“Task Force”) in May 2017, and BFPPs should carefully consider the potential benefits that Superfund Special Accounts might provide. The Task Force includes senior representatives from different EPA Regional Offices with responsibility for Superfund policy and enforcement. EPA created the Task Force to streamline and strengthen the Superfund program. In July 2017, the Task Force issued a report containing five goals and 42 recommendations. The full report is available here. Goal number two in the report is to reinvigorate responsible party cleanup and reuse of Superfund sites. One of the specific recommendations relating to this goal is to maximize the use of special accounts to facilitate site cleanup and/or redevelopment. EPA has begun to implement this recommendation with the issuance of a March 27, 2018 memorandum to its Regional Offices entitled: “Guidance on Disbursement of Funds from EPA Special Accounts to Entities Performing CERCLA Response Actions.” The full memorandum is available here. On July...