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Overreaching U.S. EPA Defeated by Neighbors’ State Claims

The U.S. Supreme Court’s April 20, 2020, decision in Atlantic Richfield Co. v. Christian held that a group of 98 Montana property owners neighboring a closed copper smelter were permitted recovery under State law and under Federal law.

This ruling comes despite the U.S. EPA’s decades of siding with Atlantic Richfield, the closed copper smelter’s owner. The Supreme Court held those 98 neighbors could prevail under State law in addition to Federal law for added losses such as use and enjoyment of property, diminution in value, and incidental, consequential, annoyance, and discomfort damages.

This decision is especially beneficial to similar Indiana neighboring property owners, because Indiana’s owner-friendly Environment Legal Action (ELA) statute allows neighbors added recovery under a less burdensome process than the common law nuisance process these Montana property owners endured.

To learn more about third-party environmental loss recoveries, please contact Mike Schopmeyer (mschopmeyer@KDDK.com), Kent “KAB” Brasseale (kbrasseale@KDDK.com), Monica Edwards (medwards@KDDK.com), or Michael DiRienzo (mdirienzo@KDDK.com), who all serve on our firm’s environmental law team.

NOTE: Author Mike Schopmeyer was a past President of the Indiana State Bar Association’s Environmental Law Section that advanced said Indiana statutory ELA remedy for property owners.

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