Appellate Court BacksNorris, McLaughlin & Marcus ClientIn Environmental Case

Thursday, April 1, 2004 - 01:00



Recently the New Jersey Appellate Division handed down a landmark decision reversing an administrative law judge (ALJ) decision that the commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) had approved. The firm of Norris, McLaughlin & Marcus, P.A. represented the appellant.


This matter of first impression involved the application of the Grace Period Law, N.J.S.A. 13:1D-127 to 133, to two alleged violations of the Solid Waste Management Act by the appellant, Marisol, Inc. The alleged violations involved failing to ensure that a classification code was visible on drums containing hazardous waste and failing to mark a temporary roll-off container as containing hazardous waste. Both of these violationsadmittedly were "minor" for purposes of penalty assessment, and Marisol corrected both of them on the day of the DEP inspection.


DEP refused, however, and both the ALJ and commissioner supported that refusal, to forgive these violations under the provisions of the Grace Period Law. DEP relied on an old internal guidance document, created prior to the enactment of the Grace Period Law, to determine that they warranted penalties.


On appeal, the court noted that the purpose of the Grace Period Law is "to 'fast track' remediation of minor violations rather than impose monetary penalties." The court went on to say that "[i]n this case, the Commissioner lost sight of that aim."


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Jeanne Hamburg has joined Norris McLaughlin as a partner in the firm's New York City office. She will practice in the firm's Intellectual Property Department. She focuses her practice on trademark and copyright litigation, transactions, clearance, prosecution and enforcement.


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Norris McLaughlin partner Edward A. Hogan and associate Patrick T. Mottola were speakers last month at a New Jersey Business and Industry Association environmental law seminar titled How to Comply With State Environmental Regulations: An Introduction. Mr. Hogan, who focuses on environmental law and litigation, gave an overview of environmental permitting, and Mr. Mottola, who focuses on environmental compliance, regulation and litigation, discussed remediation issues.