Court: Former owner of tainted daycare responsible for cleanup

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, August 11, 2011
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The family that purchased a contaminated former thermometer factory in Gloucester County and converted it into the Kiddie Kollege day care in 2004 is liable for the roughly $1 million New Jersey paid to clean up and demolish the building under an appeals court ruling issued today.

The ruling overturns a trial court decision that said Jim Sullivan 3d and relatives were not liable because the Franklin Township tax collector had not informed them the vacant building was contaminated before they bought it through a tax sale and foreclosure.

An Environmental Protection Report the Sullivans received from the town prior to their purchase “should have at least alerted them” to the possibility the building was contaminated, according to the panel. It is up to purchasers to find out if a property needs remediation, the court said in a published 21-page decision.

Sullivan, a former Franklin Township real estate broker who turned the building into a day care attended by 100 infants and children, last year agreed to settle a lawsuit the children’s parents brought against him for $1 million.

But state Superior Court Judge James Rafferty had voided the Sullivan family’s deed to the building, which freed them of the responsibility of paying for the clean-up and demolition.

“We’re very disappointed in this decision and are assessing our options,” Richard Hluchan, the Sullivan family’s lawyer, said today. He would not say whether an appeal would be filed.

M. James Maley Jr., who represented Franklin, could not reached for comment.

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