Justia New York Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Environmental Law
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The Village of Kings Point adopted a proposal to build a facility in Kings Point Park. Plaintiffs filed an action against the Village, its Mayor and its Board of Trustees seeking to enjoin the Village’s proposed project and its current use of a portion of the Park for storage as unlawful uses of parkland in violation of the public trust doctrine. The State then filed an action against the Village seeking relief with respect to the Village’s proposed project. Supreme Court granted summary judgment for the State and Plaintiffs, permanently enjoining Defendants from proceeding with the project and from obstructing existing access to the Park and directing the Village to remove the materials being stored in the Park. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the causes of action challenging the proposed project were not barred by the statute of limitations; and (2) the continuing wrong doctrine applied to toll the statute of limitations on Plaintiffs’ claims regarding the ongoing use of parkland alleged to violate the public trust doctrine. View "Capruso v. Village of Kings Point" on Justia Law

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Defendants issued excess insurance policies to Plaintiff that required, as a threshold condition for coverage, Plaintiff to provide timely notice of any occurrence that potentially implicated Defendants’ duty of indemnification. This case concerned the investigation and remediation of environmental damage at manufactured gas plant (MGP) sites owned by Plaintiff. When Defendants denied coverage, Plaintiff commenced a declaratory judgment action. The Appellate Division concluded that Plaintiff failed to provide timely notice under the policies of environmental contamination at the MGP sites but denied summary judgment to Defendants, determining that material issues of fact remained as to whether Defendants waived their right to disclaim coverage of Plaintiff’s claims. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the Appellate Division erred in considering the waiver issue under N.Y. Ins. Law 3420(d)(2) because Plaintiff never relied on the statute and instead asserted a common-law waiver defense. View "KeySpan Gas E. Corp. v. Munich Reins. Am., Inc." on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was whether the New York City School Construction Authority (Authority) violated the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) during a construction project by failing to discuss in an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) the methods it adopted for long-term maintenance and monitoring of the controls it used to prevent or mitigate environmental harm. Petitioners brought this action challenging that Authority's SEQRA compliance. Supreme court ordered the Authority to prepare a supplemental EIS based on any changes to the final EIS as a result of the Authority's completed, detailed long-term maintenance and monitoring plan. The Authority did not file a supplemental EIS but, instead, moved for reargument and renewal, asserting that its submission of a site management plan removed the need for any further SEQRA filing. Supreme court adhered to its previous ruling on reargument, and the appellate division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) where important decisions about mitigation can only be made after the initial remedial measures are complete, a supplemental EIS may be called for, as it is here; and (2) nor does the submission of a site management plan justify short-circuiting SEQRA review. View "Bronx Comm. for Toxic Free Schs. v. N.Y. City Sch. Constr. Auth." on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was a rezoning proposal for Sunset Park, a predominantly residential neighborhood in Brooklyn. Following public hearings, the Department of City Planning (DCP), the lead agency here, prepared an environmental assessment statement (EAS) and issued a negative declaration, concluding that the proposed rezoning would not have an adverse impact on the environment. Petitioners sought to annul the negative declaration on the ground that DCP's environmental review of the proposed rezoning was not in compliance with the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act and the City Environmental Quality Review rules. Supreme Court denied the petition and dismissed the proceeding. The appellate division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that DCP neither abused its discretion nor was arbitrary or capricious when it issued its negative declaration because in its EAS the DCP identified the relevant areas of environmental concern, took a hard look at them, and made a reasoned elaboration of the basis for its determination. View "Chinese Staff & Workers' Ass'n v. Burden" on Justia Law

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The Town commenced this proceeding to challenge the DEC's denial of portions of its request for information under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL), Public Officers Law 87[2][g]. Specifically, the Town, a municipality that obtained its drinking water from the Hudson River, sought information relating to the Hudson River dredging project and the availability of alternative water supplies for local residents. The DEC denied access to certain records exchanged with the EPA by invoking the FOIL exception for inter-agency or intra-agency materials. The court agreed with the Town that this exemption was not applicable under the circumstances presented and therefore modified the determinations. View "Matter of Town of Waterford v New York State Dept. of Envtl. Conservation" on Justia Law

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Superfund Coalition commenced this combined CPLR article 78 proceeding and declaratory judgment action to challenge certain regulations promulgated by the Department with respect to remedial programs implemented to clean "inactive hazardous waste disposal sites." The Superfund Coalition asserted that the regulations were ultra vires and impermissibly allowed the Department to order expansive remedial programs that contravened the limited legislative goal of article 27, title 13 of the Environmental Conservation Law to identify and remove only "significant threats." The court held that the Department did not exceed its authority or act contrary to law in enacting the subject regulations. View "Matter of New York State Superfund Coalition, Inc. v New York State Dept. of Envtl. Conservation" on Justia Law