Christian v. Atlantic Richfield Co.Annotate this Case
The town of Opportunity is a rural community east of a former copper smelter operated by the Anaconda Company. Between 1884 and 1980, the smelter emitted smoke and fumes containing arsenic and other toxic materials, and particles of these materials settled on the surrounding lands. In 2008, Appellants, property owners in and around the town, filed this action seeking damages for the cost of restoring their properties to their original state. Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO), the successor in interest to the Anaconda Company, moved for summary judgment on statute of limitations grounds. The district court granted summary judgment for ARCO on all claims. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part, holding (1) application of the continuing tort doctrine based on environmental contamination does not require evidence of that the contamination is migrating; (2) Appellants’ claims of continuing nuisance and trespass are not time-barred if a finder of fact determines that the contamination is reasonably abatable; (3) the district court properly granted summary judgment to ARCO on Appellants’ claims of unjust enrichment and constructive fraud; and (4) the district court applied the incorrect statute of limitations to Appellants’ claim of wrongful occupation.