FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 12, 2014
NC House Moves to Protect NC Residents Against Possible Toxic Contamination
Raleigh, NC – The North Carolina House of Representatives is considering legislation that would clarify its intent that residents may pursue lawsuits in certain cases related to injuries arising from exposure to toxic contamination.
The new legislative action, a Proposed Committee Substitute (PCS) to Senate Bill 574, was needed after the United States Supreme Court issued an opinion on Monday halting homeowners in the south Asheville area from pursuing a lawsuit against CTS Corporation. The U.S. Supreme Court concluded that federal law did not preempt state law, which currently limits contamination suits to 10 years.
The same day of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the Obama Administration’s U.S. Justice Department filed a motion to dismiss a similar case involving a group of North Carolina homeowners over water contamination at Camp Lejeune. The lawsuit includes claims related to exposure to contaminated water at the U.S. Marine Corps base that potentially resulted in birth defects, childhood cancers and other illnesses.
“The legislature is going to do what we can to ensure that the citizens of North Carolina are able to pursue lawsuits against possible contamination – even when it’s the U.S. Government that’s being sued,” said Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg). “Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has clarified the law in this area, we will move swiftly to ensure that state law reflects the Legislature’s intent to protect the public health of our citizens.”
The General Assembly’s legislative action is needed at this time to clarify the intent of the law following Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision and will allow for plaintiffs in cases related to injuries arising from exposure in and around Asheville and Camp Lejeune – and other communities throughout the state – to pursue legal claims against possible contamination with no time constraints. Without this legislative action, citizens would be left without a remedy against entities, including the United States, currently acting to dismiss their claim, which might have committed acts or omissions that led to their injuries.
“We are confident that this updated law will allow local residents in cases related to injuries arising from the exposure around Asheville and Camp Lejeune will have the opportunity to make their case based on the merits,” said Reps. Rick Catlin (R-New Hanover), Tim Moffitt (R-Buncombe), Chuck McGrady (R-Buncombe) and Nathan Ramsey (R-Buncombe). “This legislation is fair to our citizens and the North Carolina General Assembly will not join the ranks of those who have failed these citizens.”