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Friday, July 11, 2014

Environment - "3 cases could set key precedents for environmental lawsuits for injuries that have long latency periods"

This article yesterday by Jeremy P. Jacobs, E&E, which discusses three cases the SCOTUS will hear next term, begins:

A trend has emerged at the Supreme Court that could establish important precedents for environmental litigation: a concern among the justices about lawsuits filed beyond legal deadlines.

Last term, the court struck down claims from North Carolina landowners seeking damages for groundwater contamination because their lawsuit was filed outside the state's 10-year limit for legal action.

And next term, the court has agreed to hear at least three cases centering on various deadlines for litigation: a financial class-action case, a wrongful-death suit, and a challenge to the U.S. incarceration and deportation of a Hong Kong national.

While the facts of those cases are not environmental, court watchers said the precedents they may set could make it harder for plaintiffs to seek damages for environmental injuries that have long latency periods -- such as diseases like cancer.

"These concepts are classic and systemic of environmental tort cases," Vermont Law School professor Pat Parenteau said. "How long did it take to find out that Hooker [Chemical] buried chemicals in Love Canal and then they built a housing development on it?"

Posted by Marcia Oddi on July 11, 2014 08:28 AM
Posted to Environment