Even the best factual cases are no match for the principle of federal preemption, as residents of Camillus, New York learned the hard way.
How should you determine the extent of soil cleanup at a proposed brownfield site? For applicants of the New York State Brownfield Cleanup Program (BCP), that decision ultimately depends on several factors, including funds available for site remediation and the intended post-cleanup use of the property.
A recent federal case in New York was a reminder that in contract litigation, the parties should be careful what they claim about how "unambiguous" a contract provision assigning environmental liabilities, as elsewhere, and that in contract drafting, even apparently simple phrases have certain meanings and not others. The indirect lesson is that business people should not assume that environmental and real estate lawyers' insistence on the use of very specific terms in contracts is more academic than practical and serves no useful purpose. Indeed, the care with which such terms were defined and used provided the winning margin for Cytec Industries (Cytec).