A bill aimed at helping families at Camp Lejeune and in Asheville sue over groundwater contamination passed the Senate 49-0.
The bill is a response to a recent Supreme Court ruling that went against Asheville residents who were suing a company over well water contamination. The court said the residents couldnt sue because state law prohibited lawsuits that were filed 10 years after the last pollution occurred or from the time a polluted property was sold.
After the ruling, attorneys for the federal government asked an appeals court to dismiss a lawsuit brought over contaminated tapwater at Lejeune.
Following the Supreme Court ruling House lawmakers crafted legislation to lift the 10-year limit and allow lawsuits alleging injury or property damage from groundwater contaminated by hazardous substances anywhere in the state to proceed without time constraints. The House passed the bill late last week and expedited it to the Senate. A Senate judiciary committee approved the measure earlier today after hearing from Jerry Ensminger, a former Marine whose daughter Janey died of leukemia. Janey was born and raised on the Marine base. She was diagnosed with leukemia when she was 6.
Ensminger has been fighting the Marine Corps for recognition of the problems with Lejeunes groundwater since the late 1990s.
Were not asking for a hand out, all were asking for is for us to be allowed to present our cases in the court of law and allow those cases to be settled under their merits, he told legislators.
Ensminger spoke to the committee for about five minutes, ending by thanking legislators for coming out with the bill.