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Brockovich Protesting at US Supreme Court; Case Involves Water Contamination
CTS Corporation v. Waldburger will decide whether federal statutes applying to superfund sites apply or whether state imposed statute of limitations triumph. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit determined that "we simply further Congress’s intent that victims of toxic waste not be hindered in their attempts to hold accountable those who have strewn such waste on their land."
The Court of Appeals held that "injuries from such waste generally have “long latency periods, sometimes 20 years or longer” and (2) if a state decrees that a cause of action will accrue upon a defendant’s last act or a plaintiff’s exposure to harm, the statute of limitations often will fully run and defeat a lawsuit before a plaintiff is aware of his injury."
The appeals court based its inquiry on the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Liability, and Compensation Act also known as Superfund and cited the environmental tragedies at Love Canal and the Valley of [leaking] Drums in Louisville, Ky.
As for the facts that led to the lawsuit, families purchased property only to find later that their wells were contaminated by trichloroethylene (TCE) and cis-1,2- dichloroethane (DCE), both solvents that have carcinogenic effects. They sued the prior corporate owner. From 1959 to 1985, CTS did electroplating on the site and stored notable quantities of TCE and manufactured products using TCE, cyanide, chromium VI, and lead.
Oral arguments before the nine justices and their ultimate decision could impact future claims by those victims of the MCHM spill as health effects will not be known for years to come.