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In re Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether Products Liability Litigation

ELR Citation: 44 ELR 20045
Nos. 1:00-1898, (S.D.N.Y., 02/25/2014) (Scheindlin)

A district court held that a natural resource damages (NRD) settlement agreement between New Jersey and an oil company for methyl tertiary butyl ether groundwater contamination bars the state from seeking product liability claims against the company. The agreement settled all claims for NRD at sites "known and unknown" in New Jersey that have been "owned, leased, affiliated with and/or operated" by any settling party. The only stated exceptions are claims involving discharges of hazardous substances at a CERCLA NPL site and certain types of damages not at issue here. In addition, the company paid full compensation for damages at the sites it owned or operated, paid an additional premium for release from potential liability from any divested sites, and paid yet another premium for release from potential liability at sites where the company may be implicated. Thus, the company's release from liability covers not only the sites referred to by the records but also any other sites known or unknown. The court, therefore, granted the company's motion to dismiss New Jersey's claims.