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Stigma Damages in Environmental Cases: Developing Issues and Implications for Industrial and Commercial Real Estate Transactions

July 1995

Citation: ELR 10345

Author: Andrew N. Davis and Santo Longo

Editors' Summary: Environmental litigation is witnessing an increasing number of claims for "stigma" damages, which arise when the value of real property decreases due to a public perception that the property is contaminated or threatened with contamination. In the past, courts generally eschewed awarding such damages in the absence of other actionable harm. Recent decisions, however, reveal that courts have begun to recognize stigma damages in new contexts. After reviewing court decisions forming the basis of modern stigma damage claims, the authors discuss recent cases in which stigma damages were awarded in the absence of other actionable harm. The authors conclude that in light of these decisions, the number of stigma damage claims is likely to rise, but that federal and state environmental initiatives may relieve some of the stigma concerns associated with historically contaminated "brownfields."

The authors are environmental attorneys with the Hartford, Connecticut, office of LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae, L.L.P. Andrew N. Davis holds a J.D. from George Washington University's National Law Center, an M.S. and a Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and a B.S. from Trinity College. Santo Longo holds a J.D. from the University of Connecticut, an M.A. from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and a B.A. from Amherst College. The authors thank James A. Thompson Jr. for his valuable comments.

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