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Special Topics in Toxic Torts: Classes, Damages and Forms of Relief

Thomas S. Nichols, Gail L. Wurtzler, Natural Resources & Environmental Litigation II (1996)

Toxic tort actions involving environmental contamination are typically based on well-known legal theories. These theories include both common-law and statutory claims.

Federal statutory claims which may be included in toxic tort actions are claims for response costs under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act,1 and claims under the citizen suit provisions of the Clean Water Act,2 the Clean Air Act3 or the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.4 Depending upon the facts of the underlying dispute, claims under other federal environmental statutes or nuclear regulatory statutes may also be included. Many of these statutes have procedural prerequisites to the filing of an action or require a plaintiff to satisfy potentially onerous elements of proof.5 As a result, these federal statutory claims often present defendants with strong grounds for obtaining dismissal at an early stage in the litigation. However, several of these statutes do allow for successful plaintiffs to recover their attorneys' fees.