Lenawee County groundwater contamination case is reinstated
Thomas and Robert Robarge sued the Tecumseh Products Company, alleging that Tecumseh's manufacturing activities had diminished the use, enjoyment and market value of their property by reason of a spreading plume of groundwater contamination. The lower court dismissed their case after the Defendant raised an "Engler Majority" holding that the Defendants argued should apply to the Robarge claim.The Defendants claimed that the Robarges' claim was identical to Adkins v. Thomas Solvent, a 1992 holding that dismissed the Plaintiff's groundwater contamination private nuisance claims because the Plaintiffs conceded that their damages resulted from an ungrounded public perception of contamination where none existed.
The Court of Appeals in the Robarge decision pointed out that the Defendants and the trial court had misunderstood and mis-applied Adkins. The Court noted that in the present case, there was no stipulation that contamination had not occurred, and the plaintiffs were not alleging damage to market value based solely on unfounded allegations of contamination. In Adkins, the plaintiff's engineers had acknowledged that the contaminating plume was naturally diverted from the plaintiff's property and would not contaminate the plaintiff's groundwater. That was not the factual situation in the present case.