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Our Environmental Law department is vibrant, growing and ideally situated to assist those who buy, sell or conduct business on commercial or industrial property where environmental risks can create significant challenges to business ventures.

Business Lawyers First

We are strategists and tacticians who look at your environmental issues in the context of your business rather than as a singular problem. Where many see roadblocks, we find ways to remove obstacles and keep your business moving forward. We embrace the challenge of finding the smart and cost effective solution that best suits your needs. At times we may even find a way to turn that challenge into an opportunity.

We are called upon to apply our experience in nearly every facet of the practice including:


Environmental Law Representative Matters

  • Shortly after Home Depot signed a contract to buy land for its Paterson, NJ store in 2000, the seller discovered that it had underestimated the property’s environmental problems, which led to financial hardship and an effort by its lender to foreclose.  The Cole Schotz team ended up restructuring the deal from a purchase to a ground lease, which the seller/landlord financed to pay off its creditors.  We put environmental insurance in place to protect Home Depot against environmental risk and the city awarded grants to Home Depot to assist in remediation efforts.  Cole Schotz's multidisciplinary team helped to resolve the environmental issues and the deal proceeded.  Groundbreaking occurred in June 2007, and the store opened in June 2008.
  • The firm successfully negotiated a contract for a client to purchase a former manufacturing facility that had known contamination. Under the contract, the client was obligated to accept the property “as is” and to protect the seller from future cleanup costs. In order to cap the client’s total exposure, we negotiated a Guaranteed Cleanup Cost Contract with an environmental consultant, under which the consultant agreed to complete the cleanup for under $549,640, and if necessary, cover any cleanup costs above that amount. Since the contract only covered known contamination, we negotiated an environmental insurance policy to protect the client against any costs associated with unknown contamination that might be discovered later and third-party claims for property damage or bodily injury.
  • Cole Schotz was instrumental in overcoming significant environmental liability obstacles associated with our client’s $8.5 million acquisition of a mechanical components manufacturer. These obstacles included complex compliance issues and a multi-million dollar cleanup of the company’s main operating facility. We succeeded in obtaining the protection of environmental indemnities and cleanup obligations from the seller, enabling our client to acquire the company’s assets within its strategic time frame. In addition, we represented the client as local corporate and real estate counsel and assisted with the negotiation of complex acquisition and financing transaction documents.
  • The firm represented a client who owned a property with groundwater contamination. In order to convince a major automotive dealer to lease the premises before the cleanup was completed, we negotiated a Guaranteed Cleanup Cost Contract with an environmental consultant, under which the consultant agreed to complete the remediation for a fixed sum. We then negotiated an environmental insurance policy that provided coverage for cleanup cost overruns in the amount of twice the guaranteed cleanup cost. On this basis, the automotive dealer tenant agreed to take possession of the property and start paying substantial rent even though the cleanup had not been completed.  
  • Our client, a national television network’s local affiliate, had applied for municipal approvals to locate antennas on the roof of the building that housed its studios and offices. The application faced organized community opposition and required extensive expert testimony supporting the fact that the antennas were critical to the station's operations and security. Following numerous hearings, the municipal zoning board preliminarily denied the application. We filed an appeal and entered into negotiations with the opponents, the zoning board and the building owner. On the basis of the record created in the application and subsequent negotiations, we were successful in achieving a settlement that allowed the antennas to be located on the roof.
  • Cole Schotz submitted an exemption application to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection on behalf of a client, and was granted one of the first exemptions under the newly enacted Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act. Signed into law a month before the exemption was granted, the Act strictly limits development in the New Jersey Highlands, including all or part of Bergen, Passaic, Morris, Hunterdon, Warren, Somerset and Sussex counties. Had the Act applied, it would have completely blocked the client’s proposed development.  
  • One of the firm’s clients had expended considerable cleanup costs for the remediation of a contaminated property in New Jersey. Without resorting to litigation, we notified the client’s past business liability insurance carriers of the claim and negotiated a settlement for a substantial portion of the client’s costs.
  • The State of Ohio had obtained a Default Judgment against our client in excess of $5 million for the improper maintenance of oil and gas wells and for various violations of state environmental laws. The State of Ohio then proceeded to enter a judgment against our client in the New Jersey court system. In lieu of the $5 million civil penalty, we successfully negotiated a settlement with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources that levied an administrative penalty of only $10,000 and issued Release and Satisfaction of Judgment Liens in both states.
  • On behalf of a large retail client, we successfully negotiated, with the New Jersey Department of Commerce and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, an Agreement to Reimburse for Remediation Costs under the Brownfields and Contaminated Site Remediation Act. The agreement directed the state to reimburse our client for up to 75% of the remediation costs necessary for a site redevelopment in an Urban Enterprise Zone in Newark. The project involved Newark’s condemnation of a large parcel consisting of residential, commercial and industrial properties to allow for the proposed retail development.

The Environmental and Litigation Departments teamed up to secure more than $6 million in environmental cleanup expenses for three clients.  The clients were required to clean up environmental contamination at their properties arising from their prior operation as a chemical manufacturing plant, a truck stop and a foundry.  The Cole Schotz team used a three-prong approach to reduce the clients' liability for the cleanup.  First, Cole Schotz negotiated a guaranteed cleanup cost contract with an environmental consultant to clean up the properties for a sum certain.  Second, using that contract, Cole Schotz assisted the clients with applying for an environmental insurance policy to cover the risk of cost overruns to clean up the known contamination, the cost to clean up newly discovered contamination and liability for third-party lawsuits for property damage and bodily injury.  Once the cost of the cleanup was fixed and the clients protected with insurance, we pursued the prior owners or operators that caused the contamination at the clients' sites as well as the clients' insurers that provided general liability insurance to have them reimburse our client for cleanup costs.  Cole Schotz was able to obtain favorable settlements that helped the clients defray the cost of the cleanup.

Court Un-Laches Backdoor Defense to Spill Act?

Environmental Law October 19, 2016

Don't Let Flood Hazard Standards Jeopardize Your Project

The Chronicle, Southern New Jersey Development Council Summer 2016, Vo. 12

April 2016 Newsletter

Cole Schotz News April 2016

"Better Late Than Never" Doesn't Work for Claims Made Policies

Environmental & Energy Law Monitor February 24, 2016

JOIN THE CLUB: EPA Sizing Up Hackensack River for Superfund Listing

Environmental & Energy Law Monitor December 9, 2015

Environmental Regulations and Small Business - You Might Be Surprised

The Voice, Gloucester County Chamber of Commerce Fall, 2015

Licensed to Fill: NJDEP Makes Virgin Material More Attractive for SRP Sites

Environmental & Energy Law Monitor September, 25, 2015

OSHA Issues Final Rules On Reporting Injuries In The Workplace

Environmental & Energy Law Monitor October 1, 2014

New Jersey Appellate Court Limits Measure of Damages for Contaminated Properties

Environmental & Energy Law Monitor September 18, 2014

The Absolute Pollution Exclusion May Not Be That Absolute

Environmental & Energy Law Monitor August 20, 2014

CERCLA Contribution and Trust Funds: A Matter for State Law

Environmental Law Monitor July 16, 2014

More Pipeline Development Projects: What America Needs

The Legal Intelligencer, with Michael L. Krancer, Margaret Anne Hill, and Frank L. Tamulonis III June 20, 2014

EPA Gives New ASTM Standard the Nod in Proposed Rule

Environmental & Energy Law Monitor June 19, 2014

The New Environmental Due Diligence Standard Saga Continues

Environmental & Energy Law Monitor January 30, 2014

Think Twice Before Throwing Out Those Old Business Records

Environmental & Energy Law Monitor January 6, 2014

Not So Fast With the New Environmental Due Diligence Standard

Environmental & Energy Law Monitor November 7, 2013

Co-Insurer's Contribution Claim for Defense Costs Upheld by New Jersey Supreme Court

Environmental & Energy Law Monitor October 23rd, 2013

Six-Year Statute Of Limitations Applies To Spill Act Contribution Claims

Environmental & Energy Law Monitor August 27, 2013

Companies May Be Liable For Contaminated Property They Do Not Own Under CERCLA

Environmental & Energy Law Monitor June 18th, 2013

Shale Gas Leasing - Achieving Clarity, Transparency and Conservation: Recent Actions of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and Legislature

Pennsylvania Bar Association Quarterly with Michael L. Krancer, Margaret A. Hill, Timothy M. Ellis, and Dayna C. Finkelstein July, 2013

Shale Development and Fracking Litigation Trends

The Legal Intelligencer with Margaret Anne Hill and Mary Ann Mullaney July 31, 2012

Supreme Court Issues Stunning Rebuke to EPA Enforcement Practice

Mondaq with Kevin J. Bruno, Margaret A. Hill, and Benjamin G. Stonelake April 12, 2012

"Watershed Date for N.J. Site Remediation: May 7, 2012"

New Jersey Law Journal February 27, 2012

Be Aware of Your Consultant's Liability Limit

New Jersey Law Journal November 28, 2011

Richard Ericsson was quoted in, "Cole Schotz Adds New Enviro Practice Head"

Law 360 October 11, 2011

NJ Acts to Reduce Nutrient Pollutant in Barnegat Bay

New Jersey Law Journal February 28, 2011

Incentives Drive Expanded Use of Solar Energy in New Jersey

New Jersey Law Journal December 13, 2010

Ask A Lawyer: Environmental Review is a Must

The Record September 24, 2009

Hear Me Now

New Jersey Law Journal The availability of hearings before the NJDEP or the courts November 24, 2008

Asbestos Still Used in Buildings Today

Cole Schotz Docket Spring 2008

Establishing a Compensable Taking Under the Highlands Act

New Jersey Law Journal February 25, 2008

Ask A Lawyer: NJ Can Help You Pay for Site Cleanup

The Record July 17, 2007

New Challenges for Developers

New Jersey Law Journal June 4, 2007

Defining the Scope of Wetlands Regulation

New Jersey Law Journal September 4, 2006

Weaving Straw into Gold

New Jersey Law Journal Reconstructing insurance coverage, while difficult, can be invaluable June 26, 2006

The Impact of NJDEP's Vapor Intrusion Guidance

New Jersey Law Journal Vapor intrusion issues factor into any environmental due diligence, investigation, remediation or development February 6, 2006

Ruling Makes It Harder to Recoup Cleanup Cost

New Jersey Lawyer CERCLA contribution at issue March 21, 2005

Prepare for Even Slower NJDEP Permitting

New Jersey Law Journal Notwithstanding the new 'Fast Track' law, permitting decisions may not be so fast in the future February 7, 2005

New Piece Added to Insurance Recovery Puzzle

New Jersey Law Journal Deductibles for all accessed policies must be satisfied before the insurer is required to make any payments July 12, 2004

Reporting Historical Contamination

New Jersey Law Journal Report only when required, because doing so may create an obligation to investigate and clean up the property February 16, 2004

OSHA Inspections Not Just a Cost of Doing Business

New Jersey Law Journal Employees can use findings reached in a governmental investigation to circumvent the Workers' Compensation bar July 16, 2002

How To Navigate OSHA's Safe Harbor

New Jersey Law Journal A new policy helps employers around the shoals of voluntary safety and health audits - but it's not all clear sailing October 2, 2000

Court Invalidates NJDEP Cleanup Rule For De Minimus Quantity Exemptions

Environmental & Energy Law Monitor July 13, 2012

Another Extension of the Permit Extension Act

Environmental & Energy Law Monitor


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