Marathon Can’t Quell Motown Contamination Claims

By Peter Hayes

Marathon Petroleum again will have to defend itself against contamination claims filed by residents living near a Detroit oil refinery, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled Oct. 26 in an unpublished opinion ( Cole v. Marathon Oil Corp. , 6th Cir., No. 16-cv-2660, unpublished 10/26/17 ).

The trial court improperly dismissed the proposed class action claims as untimely, the court said.

The lower court found the plaintiffs failed to show that the injuries first occurred less than three years before filing suit. Michigan’s statute of limitations for nuisance and negligence claims requires filing within three years “after the claim first accrued to the plaintiff.”

That ruling was in error because the complaint alleges ongoing contamination, the appeals said.

The plaintiffs may proceed with claims for ongoing discharges and for discharges pre-dating the complaint by three years or less, it said.

The plaintiffs seek to represent a class of neighbors whose properties have been contaminated with toxic and hazardous substances released from the refinery.

The complaint alleges that refinery contaminants “have been linked to asthma, cancer, lung disease, nervous system harm, blindness and other serious illness” and that noxious odors and loud noises emanating from the refinery interfere with their property use.

Judge Deborah L. Cook, Raymond M. Kethledge, and Bernice B. Donald issued the per curiam opinion.

German Rubenstein LLP and Migliaccio & Rathod LLP represent the residents.

Miller Canfield Paddock & Stone PLC represents Marathon.

For More Information

The opinion is available at

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