New Jersey Court Applies Laches to Bar Spill Act Contribution Claim
Earlier this month, for the first time a New Jersey trial court applied the often pled, but seldom effective, laches defense to bar a private-party claim for contribution under the New Jersey Spill Compensation and Control Act (the “Spill Act”). Laches is an equitable principle that can be used to defend a claim that has become too “stale” by the plaintiff’s unreasonable delay in pursuing the claim, and where the defendant has suffered some harm from the delay. Laches can bar a claim even if the plaintiff initiates the lawsuit within the applicable statute of limitations, or where no statute of limitations exists – such is the case for private party contribution claims under the Spill Act, which last year the New Jersey Supreme Court affirmed in Morristown Assoc. v. Grant Oil Co., 220 N.J. 360 (2015) are not subject to any statute of limitations. In light of the Morristown decision, private claims for contribution under the Spill Act could therefore be brought decades after the discovery of contamination at a site.
Read the full blog post.