Supreme Court rules state statute of repose not preempted by federal law

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] 7-2 Monday in CTS Corp. v. Waldburger [SCOTUSblog backgrounder] that the discovery rule set forth in the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) [text] does not preempt a state's law limiting the time to seek remedies. The case arose after North Carolina landowners filed a claim against CTS Corp. [corporate website] for allegedly contaminating their well water with concentrated levels of chemicals with carcinogenic effects. Because the corporation has not had any operations at the site since it was sold in 1987, CTS argued that the case should be dismissed under North Carolina's 10-year limitation on the accrual of real property actions. The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit [official website] held [opinion, PDF] that CERCLA does preempt state law, or else states could obliterate legitimate causes of action before they exist. In an opinion by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Supreme Court reversed. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justice Stephen Breyer.

The court heard arguments in the case in April after granting certiorari [JURIST report] in January.

 

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