Monday, June 9, 2014

Top court rules against homeowners in toxic water case

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court ruled Monday that a group of homeowners in North Carolina can't sue a company that contaminated their drinking water decades ago because a state deadline has lapsed, a decision that could prevent thousands of other property owners in similar cases from recovering damages after being exposed to toxic waste.

The Associated Press reports that, in a 7-2 decision, the justices said state law strictly bars any lawsuit brought more than 10 years after the contamination occurred - even if residents did not realize their water was polluted until years later.

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The high court reversed a lower court ruling that said federal environmental laws should trump the state law and allow the lawsuit against electronics manufacturer CTS Corp. to proceed.

The decision is a setback for the families of several thousand former North Carolina-based Marines suing the federal government in a separate case for exposing them to contaminated drinking water over several decades at Camp Lejeune. The government is relying on the same state law to avoid liability. That case is currently pending at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.

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