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U.S. Supreme Court Rules Federal CERCLA Does Not Supersede State Statute of Repose

In CTS Corp. v. Waldburger, 134 S. Ct. 2175 (2014), the Supreme Court held in a 7-2 decision that the federal Superfund law, also known as the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (“CERCLA”), does not supersede a state law in North Carolina that requires lawsuits to be brought within 10 years from the date that contamination occurred. 

The case concerned groundwater pollution at a former electronics manufacturing facility in Asheville, North Carolina.  Approximately two dozen nearby landowners were seeking damages and remediation after discovering significantly elevated levels of carcinogens in the groundwater.  The contamination was discovered in the results of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tests taken in 2009, which made it clear that the contaminated water could cause liver and kidney damage, heart ailments, and cancer. 

However, CTS Corp. sold the property upon which they operated and contaminated in 1987.  Therefore, the lawsuit was barred by North Carolina’s 10-year statute of repose.  A statute of repose is unlike a statute of limitations, which usually begins when an injury is recognized.  As Justice Kennedy wrote in the opinion, “[a] statute of repose can prohibit a cause of action from coming into existence.”  Connecticut, Kansas, and Oregon have similar laws to the North Carolina law at issue in this case. 

 This case makes it clear that it is important to act quickly if you have unfortunately been impacted by contamination. The Toxic injury Lawyers are well versed in New Jersey and New York filing constraints, such as the statute of limitations for these states. If you believe you’ve been impacted by a contamination, contact us to schedule a free consultation to discuss the situation and your options.

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