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U.S. Supreme Court accepts maximum limit period for filing pollution lawsuits

GableGotwals’ Dean Couch discusses recent high court case involving environmental damages and when lawsuits against polluters must be filed.
Oklahoman Published: August 7, 2014

Q: How does a statute of repose differ from a statute of limitation?

A: A statute of repose sets a maximum time period for when a lawsuit must be filed after an event occurs. A statute of repose applies whether or not injury or damage has been discovered. The cause of action is said to be extinguished after the statute of repose period passes. This is different from a statute of limitation where it is said that a cause of action may exist, but the lawsuit must be filed by a certain date. If landowners discover after the end of a statute of repose period that their groundwater is polluted by acts of a previous owner, the landowners lose the cause of action and will not be able to maintain a lawsuit at all, even if they file within a short time after discovering the pollution. Statutes of repose usually include a lengthy time period, such as North Carolina’s 10-year period involved in this case. Statutes of repose are often seen as a way to clear out all potential liability for an event that occurred a long time ago.


by Paula Burkes
A 1981 journalism graduate of Oklahoma State University, Paula Burkes has more than 30 years experience writing and editing award-winning material for newspapers and healthcare, educational and telecommunications institutions in Tulsa, Oklahoma...
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