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Exxon Corp. v. Hunt

Citation: 12 ELR 20822
No. No. 81-2514, 683 F.2d 69/17 ERC 1969/(3d Cir., 06/30/1982) Aff'd

The Third Circuit affirms the district court's dismissal, 11 ELR 20886, of appellants' suit to enjoin a state tax imposed under the New Jersey Spill Compensation and Control Act for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. In seeking a declaration that §114(c) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) excuses them from paying the tax, appellants contended that §113(b) of CERCLA vests the district courts with exclusive original jurisdiction over cases arising under the Act. The court rules that jurisdiction under CERCLA is limited to controversies arising under that statute, and does not include suits in which the only federal issue is in the nature of a defense to a state-law claim. The court also rejects appellants' contention that Congress, by providing that claims under CERCLA are within the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal courts, impliedly removed state court authority to decide controversies over the tax imposed by the New Jersey Spill Act. The court rules that since the New Jersey courts retain jurisdiction to pass on the validity of the tax imposed by the Spill Act, and that New Jersey law provides an adequate remedy, the complaint must be dismissed in view of the Tax Injunction Act.

[The pleadings in this case are summarized at ELR PEND. LIT. 65695 and 65709; a related state court case is reported at 12 ELR 20734 — Ed.]

Counsel for Appellants
John J. Carlin Jr.
Farrell, Curtis, Carlin & Davidson
43 Maple Ave., Morristown NJ 07960
(201) 267-8130

Counsel for Appellees
Mary C. Jacobson, Erminie L. Conley., James R. Zazzali, Attorney General
Dep't of Law & Public Safety
State House Annex, Trenton NJ 08625
(609) 292-4919

Weis, J. joined by Hunter, Becker, and Higginbotham,* JJ.