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IFMC Corp. v. American Cyanamid

Citation: 40 ELR 20268
No. No. 01-0476, (D.N.J., 09/29/2010)

A district court held that the state of New Jersey waived its right to pursue natural resource damages in its lawsuit against a company concerning groundwater contamination on property located in Franklin Township, New Jersey. The state issued a memorandum in 2001 and wrote a letter in 2003 stating that the company would not be responsible for natural resource damages. In 2004, the Deputy Attorney General learned that the state altered its policy on the assessment of natural resource damages following an administration change in 2002 and that the state would seek natural resource damages for the contamination. So in 2006, the state filed suit against the company and others, seeking precisely the kind of damages that the memo and letter had represented the state would not pursue. The state's written representations that it would not assess natural resource damages on the site amounted to an express waiver of the state's right to seek said damages. The state's argument that a government agency may change its position after waiving its right to damages is unavailing. The state failed to cite any cases where a government agency has expressly waived a right, in writing, and was then permitted to renege on that representation.