How important is it that timely notice of an environmental claim be given to your insurance carrier? And just what is "timely"?
Sometimes simple common law principles are the best way to litigate against insurance companies. Specifically, if the insurance policy calls for a two-year limitations period to sue, make sure your attorney alleges common law negligence against the insurance carrier if you want the benefit of the longer, three-year, statute of limitations period (assuming the facts support a negligence claim, of course).
Sometimes the Supreme Court's silence can be just as powerful as a decision. Or as James Joyce said about "absence" - it's the "highest form of presence."
The health threats posed by physical contact with contaminated soil or groundwater are well known. But increasingly, state and federal regulators are recognizing that harmful vapors from such contamination can be drawn into nearby buildings and pose a threat to the occupants. Known as soil vapor intrusion, this threat can come from undiscovered contamination beneath a building, or even from the remnants of previously remediated soil or groundwater.
Many insurance policies contain a "pollution exclusion" which seeks to exclude coverage for losses arising from pollution, except in the case of a "sudden and accidental" release. "Sudden and accidental" may bring to mind a burst pipe or overturned tanker truck, but a recent decision in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York suggests that the interpretation can be much more complicated.
EPA has just extended to tenants the Bona Fide Prospective Purchaser ("BFPP") protection, by which Congress previously exempted certain prospective owners from harsh Superfund liability. Even where the landlord loses its BFPP protection, the new EPA enforcement guidance memo allows tenants to hold onto it, assuming the tenant can meet certain requirements.
A federal court in New York recently decided that the migration of subterranean contamination onto a neighboring property was not, by itself, a sufficient basis to hold a neighboring landowner jointly liable for remediation costs under the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act ("CERCLA").
Previously in our "Fracking NY" Blog Series, we summarized the two recent New York Supreme Court cases - Anschutz Exploration Corp. v. Town of Dryden, 940 N.Y.S.2d 458 (Sup. Ct. Tompkins Co. Feb. 21, 2012) and Cooperstown Holstein Corp. v. Town of Middlefield, 2012 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 1420 (Sup. Ct. Otsego Co. Feb. 24, 2012), which both upheld local municipalities' authority to ban oil and gas operations (as a round-about way of banning the controversial high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," operations specifically) - as being not preempted by the State Oil and Gas Act ("OGSML"). To read about those cases, please click here and here. As we expected, both of those cases were appealed to the Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, Third Department.
This blog series is based on an article written by James J. Periconi and published in the Winter 2008 Bloomberg Corporate News Journal. Mr. Periconi also discusses the details and the nuances of environmental due diligence of commercial real estate transactions in his bi-monthly continuing legal education course. Although we've blogged about environmental due diligence in the real estate transactions before (see here and here, for example), we decided it was time for a refresher series, including legal updates and discussion of new and exciting topics.
So far in the Periconi, LLC "Fracking NY Blog Series," we've outlined state, interstate, and federal regulation of high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing (or "fracking"). We now turn to yet another layer of potential regulation of fracking in New York State: local zoning ordinances. Two towns - Dryden and Middlefield - which have enacted zoning ordinances that ban fracking within their borders have had those zoning ordinances challenged by industry and/or landowners. In the past week, both of these cases were decided in favor of upholding the bans. This blog post will cover the Town of Dryden case. (Click here for the Town of Middlefieldcase.)