United States: Colin Hackett Obtains Defense Verdict In Oil Leak Suit
Last Updated: March 28 2017

Newark Managing Partner Colin P. Hackett recently obtained a defense verdict in a lawsuit over leaked fuel on a New Jersey property.

The plaintiff alleged that the property at issue was contaminated by fuel oil leaking from a previously abandoned underground storage tank and existing aboveground storage tank, both of which were located on an adjacent property. The plaintiff paid several hundreds of thousands of dollars to remediate the contamination at the property and then sought to recoup those costs from the adjacent property's current owner, prior owner, and our client, the company that abandoned the underground tank and installed the aboveground tank.

The adjacent property's current owner and prior owners settled with the plaintiff two days before trial. The plaintiff sought the bulk of the remediation costs from our client and rejected the latter's settlement offers.

The plaintiff alleged that the tank company violated the New Jersey Spill Act and negligently abandoned the underground tank and installed the aboveground tank, which caused a release of fuel oil that migrated to and contaminated the neighboring property. In addition to calling several fact witnesses at trial, the plaintiff presented expert liability testimony, which the plaintiff argued supported its claim against our client.

We chose to rely on the cross-examination of both the plaintiffs' fact and expert witnesses and on the testimony of the tank company's president, believing the strength of those alone would suffice for a defense verdict.

Following five days of trial, the jury deliberated for 35 minutes before returning a unanimous 8-0 verdict in favor of our client.

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