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Industry Files Litigation Against New Jersey Opposing Aggressive Natural Resource Initiatives

June 2004

Citation: 34 ELR 10566

Issue: 6

Author: E. Lynn Grayson

An industry coalition filed suit in March 2004, against the state of New Jersey opposing highly criticized tactics, including the state's use of a New Orleans-based firm known for representing plaintiffs in toxic tort and related litigation, to recover money damages for natural resource claims. The action seeks to end the state's plan to rely upon contingent fee attorney Allan Kanner to sue more than 80 companies for alleged damages to natural resources. The lawsuit highlights industry concerns over the aggressive program recently launched by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to recover for alleged losses and injuries resulting from natural resource damages (NRDs).

Federal and state trustees often lack sufficient resources to appropriately address legally and technically complex NRD matters. NJDEP's new initiative seeks to overcome this common problem, in large part by attempting to shift the necessary assessment and restoration work to private parties as well as by encouraging speedy resolution of legal liability issues. This innovative effort by NJDEP imposes unique legal challenges on targeted private parties as well as significant potential financial burdens.

E. Lynn Grayson is a Partner in the Environmental, Energy, and Natural Resources Group at Jenner & Block in Chicago, Illinois.

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