Justia Environmental Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in North Carolina Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court held that the Due Process Clause allows North Carolina courts to exercise personal jurisdiction over companies that received millions of dollars in assets by E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Company (Old DuPont) when the company, facing liability for releasing harmful chemicals into the North Carolina environment over a period of decades, underwent a significant corporate reorganization.North Carolina brought an action against Old DuPont and its corporate successors, asserting negligence, trespass, public nuisance, fraud, and fraudulent transfer related to Old DuPont's use of harmful chemicals at its Fayetteville Works plant and its subsequent reorganization to avoid liability. At issue was whether the Due Process Clause permits jurisdiction to be exercised over a corporate successor when the predecessor is subject to jurisdiction in the forum and state law subjects the successor to liability. The Supreme Court affirmed the business court's denial of Defendants' motion to dismiss, holding that personal jurisdiction could be established through the imputation analysis for all of the State's claims arising out of or related to Old DuPont's activities in North Carolina. View "State ex rel. Stein v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co" on Justia Law

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In this complaint seeking to have the Attorney General preliminarily and permanently enjoined from distributing monies received pursuant to an agreement between the Attorney General and Smithfield Foods, Inc. and several of its subsidiaries regarding the operation of hog farms to any recipient other than the Civil Penalty and Forfeiture Fund, the Supreme Court held that the payments contemplated by the agreement did not constitute penalties for purposes of N.C. Const. art. IX, 7.In their complaint, Plaintiffs argued that payments made pursuant to the agreement constituted penalties under article IX, section 7 and that the Attorney General lacked the authority to enter into the agreement. The trial court entered summary judgment in favor of the Attorney General, concluding that even if Smithfield and its subsidiaries had entered into the agreement in hope of avoiding future penalties, the payments made under the agreement were not penalties, forfeitures or fines collected for any breach of the penal laws of the State. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that genuine issues of material fact existed precluding summary judgment. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the payments contemplated by the agreement did not constitute penalties for purposes of article IX, section 7. View "New Hanover County Board of Education v. Stein" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff sold a parcel of land adjacent to a golf club to New South Properties (New South) for development as a residential community. New South hired Hunter Construction Group (Hunter) to prepare the parcel for construction. Hunter built erosion control structures and devices, including a silt collection basin. However, a dam Hunter constructed to form the silt collection basin ruptured, causing mud, water, and debris to flood the golf course. As a result of the damage to the golf course, Plaintiffs filed an action against New South, Apple Creek and Hunter, alleging negligence, nuisance, trespass, and violations of the Sedimentation Pollution Control Act (SPCA). The trial court granted summary judgment to Defendants on the SPCA claim. Plaintiffs appealed and withdrew their appeal against all defendants except Hunter. The court of appeals affirmed. Without considering the merits of Plaintiffs' appeal, the Supreme Court affirmed as modified, holding that because Hunter was never cited for a violation for section 113A-66 of the SPCA, Plaintiffs did not have standing to bring a civil action against Hunter pursuant to section 113A-66. View "Applewood Props., LLC v. New S. Props., LLC" on Justia Law