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Graham v. Consolidated Coal Co.

ELR Citation: 45 ELR 20207
Nos. 1:13CV00011, (W.D. Va., 10/26/2015) (Jones, J.)

A district court dismissed property owners' lawsuit against a mining company for unlawfully diverting excess wastewater into underground mine voids located beneath their land. Although the owners filed suit after the statute-of-limitations period expired, the owners argued that CERCLA's discovery rule preserves their claims because the case involves the release of hazardous substances into the environment. But CERCLA's discovery rule can only apply to state-law causes of action where the plaintiff asserted a CERCLA claim or at least could have asserted a viable claim under CERCLA. Here, the owners have not asserted a CERCLA cause of action, nor could they, because there is no evidence that they suffered any damages caused by hazardous substances. The CERCLA discovery rule is therefore inapplicable based on the undisputed facts of record, and the owners claims are time barred.