United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
GREGORY COLE and ANNIE SHIELDS, on Behalf of Themselves and all Similarly Situated, Plaintiffs,
Marathon Oil Corp. et. al., Defendants.
OPINION & ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION
F. Cox United States District Judge
Gregory Cole and Annie Shields (“Plaintiffs”)
bring this putative class action against Defendants Marathon
Oil Corporation, Marathon Petroleum Corporation, and Marathon
Petroleum LP (“Defendants”). Plaintiffs allege
that they have suffered damages as a result of
Defendants' wrongful emission, release and discharge of
contaminants from Defendants' refinery, located in
southwest Detroit. Plaintiffs' complaint includes a
private nuisance claim, a strict liability claim, and a
matter is currently before the Court on Defendants'
Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. #18, Def.s' Br.). In it,
Defendants seek dismissal of Plaintiffs' complaint on the
following grounds: (1) Plaintiffs have not stated a plausible
nuisance claim; (2) Plaintiffs' nuisance claim is
untimely; (3) Plaintiffs have not stated a plausible
negligence claim; (4) Plaintiffs' negligence claim is
untimely; and (5) there is no stand-alone claim for strict
liability or for punitive damages in Michigan.
parties have fully briefed the issues and the Court
entertained oral argument as to the motion on October 20,
2016. The Court shall GRANT Defendants' motion because:
(1) Plaintiffs' nuisance and negligence claims are
time-barred; and (2) because Michigan has not expressly
adopted a stand-alone strict liability claim.
case involves the alleged “past, present and/or
continuing” release of toxic pollutants from
Defendants' refinery on and around Plaintiffs'
residential properties in southwest Detroit. (See
e.g. Doc. #4, Am. Compl. at ¶ 5, 13, 19, 21, 55-56,
59). Plaintiffs' amended complaint sets forth the
following relevant factual allegations.
operate a refinery located at 1300 S. Fort Street in Detroit,
Michigan. (Id. at ¶ 1). Plaintiffs are
residents of southwest Detroit, owning residential properties
on Liebold Street. (Id. at ¶ 12-13). Plaintiffs
seek to represent a class of other similarly situated
individuals who also live near Defendants' refinery.
allege that the operation of Defendants' Detroit refinery
releases sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, benzene, toluene,
methyl ethyl ketone, volatile organic compounds, carbon
monoxide, particulate matter and toxic and hazardous
substances (collectively, “refinery
contaminants”) into the residential area where
Plaintiffs live. (Id. at ¶¶ 1, 4, 24).
refinery contaminants have allegedly been linked to asthma,
cancer, lung disease, nervous system harm, blindness and
other serious illness. (Id. at ¶ 68).
Plaintiffs also allege that the refinery creates unreasonable
noise, odors, vapors and fumes. (Id. at ¶
to Plaintiffs, the refinery contaminants “became
airborne or otherwise scattered and travel through the air,
environment and subsurface so that persons and properties in
the Class Area ...” were and continue to be exposed.
(Id. at ¶ 25). Plaintiffs further allege that
“[t]he exposures, pollution, noise, odors and
disturbance caused by defendants' Detroit refinery
operations is a blight on the community, deprives plaintiffs
of the use and enjoyment of their properties and exposes
plaintiffs to toxic and hazardous substances.”
(Id. at ¶ 32).
allege that they have suffered significant harm,
inconvenience, serious annoyance, discomfort, fear of adverse
health effects, and destruction of their community as a
result of the refinery's operations. (Id. at
¶ 55, 62).
have allegedly failed to safely remove and abate hazardous
refinery contaminants and have failed to advise or warn
Plaintiffs of the dangers associated with such contaminants.
(Id. at ¶ 86). Consequently, Plaintiffs have
suffered and continue to suffer various economic losses.
(Id. at ¶ 89).
commenced this putative class action on February 22, 2016.
(Doc. #1, Compl.). On March 8, 2016, Plaintiffs filed an
amended complaint, seeking “redress from the Defendants
for damages suffered by members of the putative Class ... as
a result of Defendants' wrongful emission, release, and
discharge of” various refinery contaminants. (Doc. #4,
Am. Compl.). The following are named as defendants in this