State House Backs Camp Lejeune, Asheville Plaintiffs

RALEIGH (AP) - Legislation has moved quickly through the North Carolina House seeking to clarify a judicial rule cited by the U.S. Supreme Court this week in blocking people in Asheville from suing for damages over contaminated water.

The chamber voted unanimously Friday to change what's called the "statute of repose," which bars lawsuits brought more than 10 years after any alleged contamination occurred. The proposal tries to make clear that the 10-year period should not be interpreted as barring personal-injury cases involving certain groundwater contamination.

House members are hopeful the clarification will make it possible for litigation by Asheville homeowners near an electroplating business to move forward, as well as a lawsuit blaming contaminated tap water at Camp Lejeune for illnesses.

The measure goes to the Senate early next week.


WASHINGTON, DC (AP) - The Supreme Court says a group of homeowners in North Carolina can't sue a company that contaminated their drinking water because a state deadline has lapsed.

The justices ruled 7-2 on Monday that state law strictly bars any lawsuit brought more than 10 years after the contamination - 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 allow the lawsuit against electronics manufacturer CTS Corp. to proceed.

The decision is a setback for the families of thousands of former North Carolina-based Marines suing the federal government in a similar case for exposing them to contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune. The government is relying on the same state law to avoid liability.