Affirmed: Spill Act Provides for Joint and Several Liability But a Passive Landlord is Off the Hook
In the 2012 case of New Jersey Schs. Dev. Auth. v. Marcantuone, 428 N.J. Super. 546 (App.Div. 2012), the New Jersey Appellate Division held that a passive landowner who purchased contaminated property prior to the enactment of the New Jersey Spill and Compensation Act (“Spill Act”) was a liable party under the Act even if the owner did not contribute to the contamination, unless it could meet the Spill Act’s definition of an “innocent purchaser.” This decision gave rise to an entirely new wave of litigation against landowners who, previously, were not thought to be PRPs under the Spill Act. Last week, however, the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey returned some hope to these property owners when it affirmed a Superior Court decision holding that, while a passive landlord is a liable party under the Spill Act, application of the equitable principles of allocation may result in a finding that such a landlord is nevertheless 0% responsible for the costs of remediation.