Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Supreme Court ruling hurts chances of Camp Lejeune lawsuit

A Supreme Court ruling Monday does not bode well for thousands of Marines and their relatives suing the federal government for years of exposure to toxic drinking water.

The court ruled, in a similar but unrelated case, 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.

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.

The high court reversed a lower court ruling that said federal environmental laws should trump the state law.

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.

"This effectively rolls back the environmental clock to the 19th century," said Mike Partain, 46, a Winter Haven insurance agent born at Camp Lejeune who survived a bout with a rare breast cancer he thinks is related.

"Now it is better for a corporation or government to conceal or hide pollution … for the amount of time in the statute, and then they get off scot-free," he said.

Monday's ruling involves property owners living on land where electronics manufacturer CTS Corp. used to make electronics equipment until it sold the property in 1987. It wasn't until 2009 that residents discovered their well water contained chemicals that can cause health problems including cancers, reproductive disorders and birth defects.

North Carolina has a "statute of repose" that ends a plaintiff's right to seek damages to property more than 10 years after the last act of contamination occurred.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Supreme Court ruling hurts chances of Camp Lejeune lawsuit 06/09/14 [Last modified: Monday, June 9, 2014 11:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Police: Uber driver's gun discharges during fight at Adventure Island in Tampa

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — An Uber driver's gun went off Sunday at Adventure Island during a fight between the driver and two passengers.

  2. Baker cautious on Pride politics

    Elections

    Rick and Joyce Baker strode down Central Avenue Sunday amid rainbow flags, corporate booths, and blaring music of the St. Pete Pride Festival.

    St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Rick Baker chats Sunday with people at the St. Pete Pride Festival. As mayor, Baker did not sign a Pride parade proclamation, but now he says he would.
  3. Rays' bullpen stars lit up in loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday it was the soft underbelly of the bullpen that let one get away from the Rays, incurring the wrath of the team's faithful followers, who wondered why the high-leverage guys weren't pitching.

    Rays closer Alex Colome, coming in with the score tied in the ninth, allows three runs in his second straight poor outing.
  4. Lightning among early suitors for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said he planned to explore free agency for potential needs, which include bolstering his blue line and adding a wing or two.

    Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who can be a free agent Saturday, counts the Lightning among his early suitors.
  5. Senate leaders try to appease members as support for health bill slips

    National

    WASHINGTON — Senate Republican leaders scrambled Sunday to rally support for their health care bill, even as opposition continued to build outside Congress and two Republican senators questioned whether the bill would be approved this week.

    Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill on Thursday, is one of the five Republican senators who announced they cannot support the health care bill as drafted.