SC Supreme Court sends AVX lawsuit back to circuit court - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

SC Supreme Court sends AVX lawsuit back to circuit court

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The State Supreme Court has partly reversed a circuit court’s ruling, allowing property owners near the AVX Corporation in Myrtle Beach to continue to seek damages for the company’s pollution of groundwater in and around its property.

A circuit court had previously dismissed claims of trespass, nuisance, negligence, and strict liability filed by the plaintiffs, a group of property owners surrounding the AVX Corporation, claiming the pollution lowered their property values. The circuit court ruled that the owners who were near AVX Corporation, but whose property was not contaminated, had no evidence to back up their claims, and dismissed them.

Those owners appealed, and while the SC Supreme Court upheld the dismissal of the trespass, nuisance, and strict liability claims, a majority of justices decided that the negligence claim deserved further review, according to a copy of the court's decision obtained by WMBF News.

The owners claimed “stigma damages,” meaning that while there may be no evidence of direct contamination, their close proximity to the contaminated area has nonetheless affected or devalued their properties. A majority of Supreme Court justices decided that this was a novel question of the law, and reversed the lower courts’ decision, according to the document.

The plaintiffs will now return to the lower court to again argue the remaining claim of negligence by the AVX Corporation.

In 2011, a federal judge ruled that AVX Corp. was responsible for groundwater contamination in Myrtle Beach.

Horry Land Company leased a portion of a 30-acre plot of land along 17th Avenue South in Myrtle Beach to AVX, who used the land to store soils in an area used as employee parking.

When the lease expired in 2006, Horry Land then ordered an environmental study of the property, which discovered a high amount of TCE concentrations in the ground samples. Those concentrations were more than the maximum containment level of five parts per billion.

Upon the discovery, Horry Land alleged AVX polluted the groundwater with an industrial degreaser linked to cancer and other health issues.

At that time, a spokesman for the Department of Justice said AVX estimated about $6 million in damages past and future.

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