On November 2, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued a decision in the case Little et al. v. Louisville Gas & Electric Co. et al., No. 14-6499, holding that the Clean Air Act does not preempt state common law claims. The case involved a class action lawsuit filed by residents living near the defendants’ coal-fired power plant asserting negligence, nuisance, and trespass claims under Kentucky law as a result of dust emissions and odors from the power plant. The U.S. District Court dismissed the plaintiffs’ federal Clean Air Act claims, finding that plant-wide emission controls implemented pursuant to a state enforcement order rendered those claims moot, but upheld the state common law claims. The Sixth Circuit affirmed based on the Court’s decision in the companion case, Merrick, et al. v. Diageo Americas Supply, Inc., No. 14-6198, where the Court held that “the states’ rights savings clause of the Clean Air Act expressly preserves the state common law standards on which plaintiffs sue.”
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