Once again, a recent Appellate Division Panel opinion has environmental lawyers and their clients realizing that the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) may collect penalties in the state’s municipal courts.  This time, the case concerned penalties assessed by DEP for failure to follow state site remediation requirements imposed by the Site Remediation and

In a recent unpublished decision, In the Matter of Spill Fund Lien, DJ No. 129570-02, the Appellate Division held that the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”), through the Spill Fund Administrator (the “Administrator”), could file a Spill Act lien against the property of a person in any way responsible for a discharged hazardous substance (“person in any way responsible”). The court also found that NJDEP’s “lien contest” guidance, the procedure for challenging Spill Act liens, satisfied procedural due process requirements. This decision removes a potential ground for challenging Spill Act liens, expands the universe of persons against whom a Spill Act lien can be filed, and may even expand the universe of persons against whom NJDEP can level treble damages claims.
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