Howard Davis P.C.

News/Press

Court rules six-year statute of limitations applies to Spill Act Contribution claims

October 30, 2013

On August 23, 2013, the New Jersey Appellate Division issued a decision that has strong implications for potential Spill Act contribution claimants.  In Morristown Associates v. Grant Oil Co., No. A-0313-11T3 (App. Div. Aug. 23, 2013), the court held that New Jersey’s general six-year statute of limitations for property damage, N.J.S.A. 2A:14-1 et seq., applies to private claims for contribution under the New Jersey Spill Compensation and Control Act, N.J.S.A. 58:10-23.11 et seq. (the “Spill Act”).  Although the Spill Act does not expressly specify a limitations period, the court ruled that a six-year limitations period for Spill Act contribution claims is consistent with federal law and federal courts’ interpretation of the statute of limitations period under the Spill Act and its federal counterpart, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).  The six-year clock begins to run when the injured party discovers or should have discovered that it may have a basis for an actionable claim, known as the “Discovery Rule” as set forth in Lopez v. Swyer, 62 N.J. 267 (1973).

On November 13, 2013, the New Jersey Supreme Court granted certification to hear the case on appeal.