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New Jersey Dept. of Environmental Protection v. Alden Leeds, Inc., 153 N.J. 272; 708 A.2d 1161; 1998 N.J. LEXIS 212; 46 ERC(BNA) 1447 (Supreme Court of New Jersey 1998)
Facts:  The Alden Leeds company packages, stores, and ships swimming pool chemicals.  The firm does most of its work at its facility in Kearns, New Jersey.  At any given time, about 21 different hazardous chemicals are present. The day before Easter, a fire of unknown origin broke out in “Building One” of the company’s site, releasing chlorine gas and other potentially dangerous by-products into the air.  There were no guards or other personnel on duty.  The fire caused $9 million in damage to company property.  Because of the potentially dangerous gas, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) closed the New Jersey Turnpike along with half a dozen other major highways, halted all commuter rail and train service in the area, and urged residents to stay indoors with windows closed.  An unspecified number of residents went to local hospitals with respiratory problems.
Based on New Jersey’s Air Pollution Control Act (APCA), the DEP imposed a civil fine on Alden Leeds for releasing the toxic chemicals.  The appellate court reversed, finding that there was no evidence the company had caused the fire or the harm, and the case reached the state’s high court.
question/ Issue: Did the company cause the harm?



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