February 26, 2009
On Wednesday, March 11, 2009, at 9:00 AM, Courtroom 300 – Minnesota Judicial Center  in St. Paul the Minnesota Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case involving the statute of limitations that applies to the Minnesota Environmental Response and Liability Act (MERLA), Minn. Stat. Ch. 115B or the state Superfund law.  A synopsis of the case, which involves the State of Minnesota’s Landfill Cleanup Program, to be argued before the Minnesota Supreme Court is as follows:
 
State of Minnesota, by its Pollution Control Agency and its Attorney General, Lori Swanson, Respondent v. Evanston Insurance Company, et al., Defendants, Northwestern National Insurance Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Appellant – Case No. A08-1132:
 
In December 2005, the State of Minnesota sued Northwestern National Insurance Company under an insurance policy issued by the company to Indianhead Trucking, which allegedly disposed of waste at the WDE landfill in Anoka County, a landfill the state began cleaning up in 1995.  Northwestern National moved to dismiss the state’s claims on grounds that they were barred by the applicable six-year statute of limitations.  In opposition to Northwestern National’s motion, the state argued that by virtue of Minn. Stat.  Section 115B.40, subd. 8(a), the running of the statute of limitations was suspended until July 1, 2004, whereupon it resumed running.  The District Court denied Northwestern National’s motion but, at the insurer’s request, certified the statute of limitations question under Minn. R. Civ. App P. 103.03 to the Court of Appeals.  The rule allows an appeal from the denial of summary judgment upon the District Court’s certification that the question presented is “important and doubtful.”  The Court of Appeals dismissed Northwestern National’s appeal as neither important nor doubtful.  The question before the Supreme Court is whether, in dismissing Northwestern National’s appeal, the Court of Appeals erred. (Ramsey County) .
 
Joseph Maternowski, chair of Hessian & McKasy’s Environmental Law Attorney Practice Group has litigated cleanup and cost recovery claims under MERLA and the federal counterpart CERCLA.  Mr. Maternowski, an experienced environmental lawyer, has represented businesses, local units of government and groups of parties who have been identified as potentially responsible parties at Superfund sites in both federal and state court. 
The views expressed here are my own and do not reflect the views of my employer, Hessian & McKasy. P.A.
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