Supreme Court Rules Against Water Contamination Victims

The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled against victims in a well water contamination lawsuit. The CTS Corporation v. Waldburger case decision reportedly makes it far more difficult for those sickened by water contamination to garner restitution.

A group of property owners in Asheville, North Carolina sued after allegedly suffering health issues due to toxic pollution in their well water. “I am stunned by the decision. It’s a blow to all victims,” retired Master Sergeant Jerry Ensminger said after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the well water contamination case.

The high court based the decision on a lack of standing by the water contamination victims. According to court documents, the group had no right to sue the CTS Corporation because the 10-year deadline for filing such a lawsuit had passed. Unfortunately for the group, some of the water well owner reportedly did not learn their health issues stemmed from contamination in the appointed time frame.

The justices cited a North Carolina law that limited all pollution lawsuit claims for a decade after the contamination incident. Attorneys for the Asheville property owners argued that a federal law related to such incidents allows a much longer time frame for legal claims. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the argument, but the Supreme Court overruled the decision.

The North Carolina group maintains that their well water was contaminated by an electronics plant that had been operated by the CTS Corporation in the area. The plant was long-defunct before the lawsuit and many of the health issues were realized.

Dot Rice lives just 1,000 feet from the CTS factory site. “It’s [lawsuit ruling] very devastating to me. The contamination has gotten much worse. There are more people getting sick and now there can be nothing done about it,” Rice said.

Environmental Working Group Executive Director Heather White had this to say about the water contamination ruling:

“This Supreme Court ruling is a real boon for polluters, who will now be expressly rewarded for covering up contamination of a community’s water, land, and air – and ultimately people’s bodies. Essentially, the court is saying that if polluters can keep their acts secret until the deadline set by the statute of repose expires, Americans have no right to sue. This decision will give polluters a powerful financial incentive to conceal what they have done. It could unleash a deluge of industry-backed lobbying efforts in state after state, seeking to enact laws similar to the North Carolina statute and further undermining Americans’ right to protection from special interests.”

The environmental group official also believes that the Supreme Court ruling in the North Carolina well water contamination case will ultimately play a role in oil and gas drilling and fracking contamination lawsuits.

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