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In re In re TMI

ELR Citation: 26 ELR 21569
Nos. No. 94-7598, 89 F.3d 1106/(3d Cir., 07/18/1996)

The court holds that the Price-Anderson Amendments Act of 1988's choice-of-law provision mandates the retroactive application of Pennsylvania's two-year statute of limitations to bar the claims of 42 plaintiffs filed in Mississippi State and federal court for injuries allegedly caused by the Three Mile Island nuclear accident. Plaintiffs, who missed Pennsylvania's two-year limitation date, filed suit in Mississippi in order to fall within that state's six-year statute of limitations. The actions filed in Mississippi state court were removed to federal district court in Pennsylvania, and the actions filed in federal district court in Mississippi were transferred to federal district court in Pennsylvania. The court first holds that Pennsylvania's statute of limitations applies retroactively to plaintiffs' causes of action filed in Mississippi. Congress could have exempted statutes of limitations from the Act's unambiguous retroactive application of the choice of law provision, but it did not. The court holds that plaintiffs have not demonstrated that retroactive application of the choice of law provision violates constitutional due process. Such an application is not arbitrary or irrational, because it advances Congress' goals of uniformity, equity, and efficiency in thedisposition of claims arising from nuclear incidents. The court further holds that Pennsylvania law does not provide for a grace period from the statute of limitations under the circumstances of this case.

Turning to plaintiffs' Pennsylvania state-law claims, the court holds that the discovery rule does not toll the running of Pennsylvania's statute of limitations. Plaintiffs knew of the Three Mile Island accident, and knew or should have known that exposure to radiation could cause adverse health effects. The court also holds that defendants' alleged concealment of information relating to the accident does not toll the statute of limitations. Defendants' statements downplaying the seriousness of the accident immediately after it occurred do not create an issue of material fact with respect to fraudulent concealment. Moreover, many other plaintiffs obtained sufficient information to file suit within the statute of limitations.

Counsel for Appellants
Arnold Levin
Levin, Fishbein, Sedran & Berman
320 Walnut St., Ste. 600, Philadelphia PA 19106
(215) 592-1500

Counsel for Appellees
Ellen K. Scott
Pepper, Hamilton & Scheetz
3000 Two Logan Sq.
18th & Arch Sts., Philadelphia PA 19103
(215) 981-4000

Before: SCIRICA, McKEE, and SAROKIN, Circuit Judges.