by Daniel M. Steinway
Washington Legal Foundation
July 17, 2014
Congress enacted the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) in 1980 to ensure that liable parties were responsible for environmental cleanup costs, but provided no cause of action for the recovery of damages from personal injuries or property damage arising from contamination, but instead preempted state statutes on tort actions for personal injury or property damage caused by contamination or pollution. In June 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court held in CTS Corp. v. Waldburger (“CTS Corp”) that CERCLA does not preempt state statutes of repose on the same subject. The decision is likely to have a significant impact on pending and future court cases where an applicable statute of repose provides an affirmative defense. The response of state legislatures remains an open question.

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