Lowenstein Sandler represented the New York Shipping Association Inc. as amicus curiae in the precedent-setting dismissal of a summary judgment motion brought by the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor against New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
In 2018, former Governor Chris Christie signed a law to remove New Jersey from a 60+-year compact with the commission originally designed to regulate and deter corruption in the shipping port the state shares with New York. In recent years, most of the harbor’s activity shifted from New York to New Jersey, and New Jersey legislators came to see the commission as an overregulating body and an impediment to future job growth and prosperity at the port. The commission sought to invalidate the law, arguing that the state did not have the power to withdraw from the compact.
Accepting arguments raised in Lowenstein’s amicus brief supporting Governor Murphy and the Legislature, a circuit panel found that New Jersey is shielded from the suit to block its withdrawal and that, even though the commission named Governor Murphy as defendant, "the real, substantial party in interest" was the state, which was thus entitled to sovereign immunity. In remanding the case for dismissal, the decision noted: "Granting this relief would compel New Jersey to continue to abide by the terms of an agreement it has decided to renounce.”