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Camp Lejeune Water Contamination: Technical difference between a Statute of Limitations and a Statute of Repose

david russottoA recent North Carolina Supreme Court decision dismissed the court cases brought by victims of Camp Lejeune water contamination based upon the technical difference between a statute of limitations and a statute of repose.

Technically a “statute of REPOSE” is not the same as a statute of limitation. A statute of limitation generally runs from the date of injury/illness and or discovery of the cause of the illnesses….at least in 46 states. Here the statute of repose prevents law suits after 10 years regardless of whether the cause of contamination wasn’t discovered until more than ten years after the last date of contamination.

In this case Federal laws, passed by Congress, clearly state that time limits in cases like this do not start running until discovery of the cause of the claimants illnesses. This is especially important where the contamination is largely undiscoverable.  Congress’ intent was to prevent companies from deliberately covering up contamination until the clock has run out.

Even more at issue is whether federal law preempts state law. The North Carolina courts have avoided the issue by saying that Congress only intended to preempt statutes of limitations not statutes of repose….

So mere semantics are preventing nearly a million people hurt by contaminated water at Camp Lejeune from having their day in court when it’s clear that Congress intention was to prevent this!

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