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W.R. Grace & Co. v. Weja, Inc.

ELR Citation: 36 ELR 20250
Nos. No. A-5527-03T1, (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div., 11/30/2006)

The court reversed and remanded a lower court decision dismissing a property owner's claims against the former tenants and operators of a gas station in New Jersey and two oil companies that supplied gasoline to the site. There were issues of material fact as to whether delivery spills and overfills caused contamination based on the site data and a forensic analysis of the gasoline samples. There were also issues of material fact concerning leakage from the underground storage tanks (USTs) at the site based on documents showing inventory discrepancies and water in the tanks.  In addition, the court erred in denying the plaintiff's request for a jury trial on its contract and negligence claims. These claims should have been before a jury even though the New Jersey Spill Compensation and Control Act (Spill Act) claim is to be tried by the bench.  Finally, the lower court erred in holding that one of the tenant/operators owned the USTs and that the principal of that company was personally liable for cleanup costs under the Spill Act and all leasehold damages under veil-piercing theory.