My August column in the Pennsylvania Law Weekly considers the recent decision in Litgo New Jersey, Inc. v. Commissioner New Jersey Dept. of Envt’l Prot’n, No. 12-1288 (3d Cir. Aug. 6, 2013). Litgo is mostly a Superfund case, but it also involves a claim under the citizen suit provision of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, 42 U.S.C. 6972. The parties had had earlier litigation in New Jersey state court. Under the New Jersey entire controversy doctrine, had plaintiff been able to bring its RCRA claim in the state court action, it would have been barred by claim preclusion from bringing it in the later federal case. However, the court of appeals held that section 7002(a) of RCRA vests exclusive jurisdiction in the federal courts. Cf. City of Scranton v. Dept. of Envt’l Prot’n, No. 94-060-C (Pa. Envt’l Hearing Bd. Nov. 4, 1997). Note that the day following the Litgo decision, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit decided Ackerman v. ExxonMobil, No. 12-1103 (4th Cir. Aug. 7, 2013), affirming abstention in an MTBE case in favor of a state tort action.
To read Third Circuit Found Exclusive Fed. Jurisdiction Under RCRA, 36 Pa. L. Weekly 763 (Aug. 20, 2013), click here.