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Interstate Wrecking Co. v. Palisades Interstate Park Commission

Decided: March 3, 1970.

INTERSTATE WRECKING CO., INC., PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
PALISADES INTERSTATE PARK COMMISSION, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT, AND CLARKE & RAPUANO, INC., DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT



Conford, Collester and Kolovsky. The opinion of the court was delivered by Kolovsky, J.A.D.

Kolovsky

[109 NJSuper Page 154] Palisades Interstate Park Commission (Commission) appeals on leave granted from an order of the Law Division denying its motion to dismiss the complaint and to quash the service of summons. The Commission contends that the New Jersey courts have no jurisdiction either

over the subject matter of the action against it or the person of the Commission. It does not challenge the method of service, here by registered mail.

The Commission had advertised in New York for bids for the work involved in demolishing buildings on Iona Island, Rockland County, preparatory to the development of the island for recreation purposes. The bid of plaintiff, a New Jersey corporation, was accepted and a contract executed. The work was completed; plaintiff was paid the contract price but its claim for extras was rejected.

Plaintiff instituted this action in the Superior Court, Law Division, against the Commission and its engineer Clarke & Rapuano, Inc. which had prepared the pre-bid information and supervised the work under the contract. The first three counts seek to recover from the Commission the reasonable value of extra work done and damages allegedly caused by misrepresentations in the pre-bid information furnished. The last two counts charge the engineer with negligence in preparing the pre-bid information and in supervising plaintiff in the performance of its work.

The Commission was created by an interstate compact between New York and New Jersey (L. 1937, c. 148, now N.J.S.A. 32:17-1 to 13; N.Y. Laws 1937, c. 170) with Congress consenting thereto on August 19, 1937 (Public Resolution No. 65, c. 706, 50 Stat. 719).

The compact provided for the continuation of the parks theretofore managed by separate "Commissioners of the Palisades Interstate Park" in each state as an interstate park and for that purpose created

The commission shall have power to sue and be sued, to use a common seal and to make and adopt suitable by-laws. The commission

shall consist of ten members, five of whom shall be citizens and residents of the state of New York and five of whom shall be citizens and residents of the state of New Jersey. For the purpose of doing business the members of the commission shall constitute a board. [ Art. II, N.J.S.A. 32:17-4, emphasis added]

The compact further provided:

There are hereby transferred to the commission all of the functions, jurisdiction, rights, powers and duties of the respective state boards, as now prescribed by the laws of the respective states, and the same shall hereafter be exercised and performed by the commission, subject to such modifications thereof as are contained in this compact. [ Art. III, N.J.S.A. 32:17-5]

After pointing out that by appropriate legislation the State of New York has waived its own immunity from suit only to the extent of permitting actions against it in its Court of Claims, the Commission urges that the compact provision empowering the Commission to sue and be sued should be construed as embodying only a similar limited waiver of immunity in cases such as this arising ...


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