ST. LOUIS – On March 29, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri in the Eastern Division remanded a state-law claims lawsuit back to a state court, ruling a group of defendants failed to prove why the case should be removed to federal court.
"The court finds that defendants have failed to meet their burden of establishing federal subject matter jurisdiction for purposes of the (Price-Anderson Act) and that this matter should be remanded to state court. Given this finding, the court need not address the merits of plaintiff’s due process argument. Finally, because the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this action, defendants’ pending motions to dismiss will be denied without prejudice," U.S. District Judge John A. Ross ruled.
The case was remanded back to the St. Louis County Circuit Court.
Tamia Banks filed a class action against Cotter Corp., Commonwealth Edison Co., Exelon Corp., Exelon Generation Co., DJR Holdings (formerly known as Futura Coatings Inc.) and St. Louis Airport Authority on several counts.
She accused the defendants of releasing radioactive wastes and uranium from two sites in St. Louis that she alleged tainted her home and property and the properties of her fellow class members, leading to massive property damage.
Banks sued the defendants on behalf of herself and others in a similar situation on allegations of trespassing, permanent nuisance, temporary nuisance negligence, negligence per se, strict liability/absolute liability, injunctive relief seeking medical monitoring, punitive damages, civil conspiracy against the Airport Authority solely, inverse condemnation, violation of the Missouri State Constitution’s due process guarantee and violation of the Missouri State Constitution’s takings and just compensation clause.
Banks also requested the court grant her damages for matters like annoyance and discomfort, costs of relocation and legal fees. She also asked the court for injunctive relief via medical and scientific evaluations for her home and property along with environmental testing and consistent medical testing and cleanup.
Banks sued in the St. Louis County Circuit Court on April 2, 2018, but the defendants removed the case to the current court on April 18, 2018, citing the Price-Anderson Act (PAA). Banks then filed a motion to remand on May 29, 2018, which the court has now granted.
Ross referred to PAA and said a 1988 amendment to the Act was “enacted to expand the scope of federal jurisdiction to a broader class of nuclear liability cases than those arising just from extraordinary nuclear occurrences as well as to provide for consolidation of those claims in federal court.”
Still, Ross also said amid the PAA’s issues concerning limited liability limitation and indemnification, “the court is not convinced that the 1988 amendments were meant to extend the reach of the PAA to activities not covered by applicable licenses or indemnity agreements.”
The PAA was enacted in 1957 as an update to Congress’ Atomic Energy Act. The 1988 amendment included changes that would offer an opportunity to remove a case to federal court for any public liability that was a result of a nuclear incident.
Banks pointed out that Cotter’s license that allowed it to “receive, possess and import” uranium didn’t include the uranium mill tailings which are the concerns for this case. While the defendants disagreed, the court pointed out that they had not proven Cotter’s 1969 Source Material License gave it the green light to “receive, possess and import” uranium as it relates to this case.