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United States v. Joseph G. Moretti, Inc.

Citation: 6 ELR 20221
No. No. 75-1175, 526 F.2d 1306/8 ERC 1666/(5th Cir., 02/17/1976) Rev'd in part & remanded

A lower court judgment ordering restoration of canals dug above the mean high tide line but connected to navigable waters without permits from the Corps of Engineers is partially reversed and remanded. The canals are subject to the Corps' dredge and fill jurisdiction under the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 because they alter the navigable bay's course and condition. The Corps has a broad obligation under the statute to regulate dredging and filling so as to advance the "preservation of our environment," and the district court had the authority to order restoration of the illegally damaged topography. The lower court erred, however, in ordering restoration without holding an evidentiary hearing on the manner in which restoration should be performed, and in holding defendant Moretti personally liable for the costs of restoration. Therefore, the judgment against Moretti individually is reversed, the restoration order is vacated and the case remanded for a hearing on its feasibility and environmental advisability.

Counsel for Plaintiff-Appellee
David F. MacIntosh, U.S. Attorney
300 Ainsley Bldg.
Miami FL 33132
(305) 350-4471

Eva R. Datz
Department of Justice
Washington DC 20530
(202) 739-2827

Counsel for Defendants Appellants
Kenneth L. Ryskamp
Bolles, Goodwin, Ryskamp & Welcher
401 City National Bank Bldg.
Miami FL 33130
(305) 379-8353

Dyer, J. for himself, Bell & Ainsworth, JJ.