N.C. Circumvents Supreme Court Ruling On Groundwater Contamination

By Kimber Ray

Lawsuits filed by citizens exposed to toxic tap water in Asheville, N.C., and Camp Lejeune Marine Corp Base, N.C., will now be able to move forward, thanks to legislation signed into law this July by North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory. The bill clarifies that the state’s deadline for filing personal injury claims does not apply to cases involving groundwater contamination.

This legislation was proposed in response to a June 9 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled against 25 Asheville citizens kept unaware of their polluted water for more than a decade. Citing North Carolina’s 10-year limitation on personal injury lawsuits, a 7-2 majority of the court barred residents from suing CTS Corporation for improperly disposing of toxic waste at the Asheville site from 1959 to 1986.

Because the CTS ruling could impact a separate case regarding contamination at Camp Lejeune, the U.S. Department of Justice had defended CTS. Following the Supreme Court decision, the federal agency unsuccessfully attempted to cite the Asheville case as grounds to dismiss the Camp Lejeune lawsuit.

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