SAGINAW, Mich. (AP) – A decision by the Michigan Supreme Court means that property owners along the Tittabawassee River might have waited too long to sue Dow Chemical over dioxin contamination.

In an order this week, the court sent a lawsuit back to a Saginaw County judge for more work to determine when property owners were harmed.

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There is a three-year limit to file a lawsuit. The Supreme Court said the clock starts running when damage occurred.

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Dow has argued that the statute of limitations had long expired when the lawsuit was filed in 2003 because the public became aware of dioxin pollution in the Tittabawassee River years earlier. The company appealed after the appeals court said the key date was much later, in 2002, when regulators reported high levels in the flood plain in Saginaw County.

Litigation against Dow has been broken down into separate lawsuits by dozens of people.

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