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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court says a group of homeowners in North Carolina can’t sue a company that contaminated their drinking water because a state deadline has lapsed.

The justices ruled 7-2 on Monday that state law strictly bars any lawsuit brought more than 10 years after the contamination – even if residents did not realize their water was polluted until years later.

The high court reversed a lower court ruling that said federal environmental laws should allow the lawsuit against electronics manufacturer CTS Corp. to proceed.

The decision is a setback for the families of thousands of former North Carolina-based Marines suing the federal government in a similar case for exposing them to contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune. The government is relying on the same state law to avoid liability.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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