Foreign oil companies subject to N.J. suit

John O'Brien Sep. 15, 2008, 3:36pm


TRENTON, N.J. (Legal Newsline) - More good news arrived Monday in the State of New Jersey's litigation against oil companies they say are damaging the state's natural resources.

State Attorney General Anne Milgram said a Superior Court judge is forcing a Spanish oil conglomerate and its Argentinean subsidiary to remain defendants in a lawsuit that alleges they, among other corporations, discharged pollutants into the Passaic River.

Repsol YPF, S.A., of Spain, and YPF, S.A., of Argentina said they were not subject to the jurisdiction of New Jersey courts, though Superior Court Judge Donald Goldman did not agree.

"This is an important ruling as we continue to pursue costs and damages incurred by the citizens of New Jersey because these defendants intentionally discharged dioxin -- one of the most toxic substances on earth -- into the Passaic River," Milgram said.

"The ruling ensures that Repsol and YPF -- foreign oil conglomerates with substantial assets -- will not be allowed to sidestep our lawsuit alleging their responsibility in contaminating one of the state's most vital environmental resources."

Similar to a recent case that held ExxonMobil liable for the damaging of natural resources around two of its plants, the State is using outside counsel in the Passaic River case.

The Houston law firm Jackson, Fischer, Gilmour & Dobbs is teaming with Gordon & Gordon of Springfield and Deputy Attorney General John Dickinson.

Repsol and YPF previously acquired two New Jersey-based defendants, Maxus Energy Corp. and Tierra Solutions.

The State filed suit in 2005, alleging that dioxin, the pesticide DDT and other pesticides and chemicals were intentionally discharged into the river. Milgram said dioxin concentrations in fish and crabs from the river are among the highest reported in the world.

Milgram and the outside counsel are representing the state's Department of Environmental Protection.

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