Decided: October 16, 1986.
FRANK J. GUARINI, MEMBER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, GERALD MCCANN, MAYOR OF THE CITY OF JERSEY CITY, DR. IRWIN SILVERMAN, DR. LENA EDWARDS, JOHN M. STILES, NIDIA DAVILA COLON, HARRY BISHARIAN AND WALTER IRWIN, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS, AND ROBERT J. DEL TUFO, REV. RAYMOND J. KUPKE AND DR. SANG JIN KIM, PLAINTIFFS,
THE STATE OF NEW YORK AND THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Hudson County, whose opinion is reported at 215 N.J. Super. 426 (Ch.Div.1986).
Michels, O'Brien and Skillman.
[215 NJSuper Page 293] Plaintiffs Frank J. Guarini, a member of the House of Representatives, Gerald McCann, the Mayor of the City of Jersey
[215 NJSuper Page 294]
City, Dr. Irwin Silverman, Dr. Lena Edwards, John M. Stiles, Nidia Davila Colon, Harry Bisharian and Walter Irwin appeal from a judgment of the Chancery Division that dismissed their declaratory judgment action against defendants The State of New York and The State of New Jersey. Plaintiffs sought (1) a declaration that the 1834 compact between the States of New York and New Jersey, which established the boundaries between these two states and which was approved by Congress, did not confer jurisdiction or sovereignty over Ellis' Island and Bedloe's (now Liberty) Island to New York; (2) an injunction against New York from collecting or levying taxes on those islands or exercising sovereignty or jurisdiction including police power over or with respect to New York, and (3) the imposition of a constructive trust on past tax revenues collected on the islands by New York. The trial court dismissed the action generally on the following grounds: (1) the Superior Court of New Jersey lacked jurisdiction over the subject matter because the Supreme Court of the United States has original and exclusive jurisdiction over such boundary disputes and cases involving interpretation of interstate compacts establishing boundaries; (2) plaintiffs lacked the requisite standing to institute an action asserting rights or claims which are the prerogative of the sovereign states, (3) the action was barred by principles of comity and (4) the action was barred by sovereign immunity.
We are satisfied from our study of the record and the arguments presented that the trial court properly dismissed this action. We therefore affirm the judgment under review substantially for the reasons expressed by Judge Humphreys in his thorough and thoughtful oral opinion of March 18, 1986, as edited by his written opinion, dated March 18, 1986, reported in
[215 NJSuper Page 295]
Guarini v. The State of New York, 215 N.J. Super. 426 (Ch.Div.1986).*fn1