Claims Against Fuel Suppliers Dismissed

Posted on September 30, 2021

The Dutchess County Supreme Court recently granted a motion to dismiss brought by Young/Sommer LLC on behalf of two fuel oil suppliers that had been sued as third-party defendants under the Navigation Law and the common law of contribution and indemnity. The defendants/third-party plaintiffs had installed a faulty above-ground storage system in the basement of a residential home and alleged that the fuel oil suppliers had a duty to inspect that system, which ultimately failed, before delivering fuel oil. The Court rejected that claim and held that the fuel oil suppliers had no pre-delivery duty to inspect unless they contractually assumed such a duty or otherwise had prior notice of a potential leak in the system. In the case at hand, there was no such contractual obligation, no alleged pre-delivery notice of a leak, and the spill was not discovered until a month after fuel oil was delivered to the system.  Because the mere delivery of fuel oil, without more, does not render one a discharger, the Navigation Law claims against the fuel oil suppliers were dismissed. The Court likewise dismissed the common law contribution claim because the fuel oil suppliers had no common law duty to inspect a system that they did not install before supplying fuel oil to that system. Finally, the Court dismissed the common law indemnity claim because the fuel oil suppliers did not owe third-party plaintiffs, as the installers of the storage system, any duty of care and because third-party plaintiffs were not without fault, having installed the system that failed and caused the spill.  Read the Decision and Order.