Supreme Court rules that statutes of repose may bar state tort claims under CERCLA



On June 9, 2014, the United States Supreme Court, in CTS Corp. v. Waldburger, ruled that an individual state’s statute of repose is not preempted by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (“CERCLA”). Therefore, a state’s statute of repose may bar certain individual state tort claims for damages sustained after a particular number of years since the contaminating act. This decision will have a great impact in the five states with statutes of repose limiting environmental claims and likely will spur lobbying and legislation in other states to create such laws.

What You Need to Know

  1. Any state with a statute of repose that bars environmental claims past a certain date may limit state claims for damages arising out of contaminated land. Currently, only North Carolina, Connecticut, Kansas, Oregon and Alabama have statutes of repose that bar environmental claims.
  2. CERCLA allows a state’s statute of limitations to be tolled until a plaintiff discovers his or her injury. However, CERCLA does not permit a state’s statute of repose to be tolled; rather a state’s statute of repose is an absolute bar to bringing litigation after a certain number of years since the contaminating act.
  3. The court’s decision does not affect any federal claims, including claims under CERCLA, or any state claims in the 45 states without a statute of repose that limits state law claims.
  4. Be aware of lobbying and legislation efforts in your state regarding new statute of repose laws for environmental claims. State legislatures may be more receptive to passing statute of repose laws for environmental claims now that the Supreme Court has upheld such laws as valid.



DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Saul Ewing LLP | Attorney Advertising

Written by:


Saul Ewing LLP on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:

Sign up to create your digest using LinkedIn*

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.

Already signed up? Log in here

*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.