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Save Our Wetlands v. Rush

Citation: 7 ELR 20261
No. No. 75-3710, 424 F. Supp. 354/(E.D. La., 12/07/1976)

The court denies defendants' motion to dismiss this National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) challenge to the Lake Pontchartrain Hurricane Protection Project as barred by laches or for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Laches is not judicially favored as a defense in environmental cases, and plaintiff's delay in filing suit must in any event be inexcusable for the doctrine to apply. The maximum possible delay in a NEPA case is the length of time from issuance of the final environmental impact statement until suit was filed, in this instance from January to December 1975, a period of 10 months. This delay was reasonable rather than inexcusable considering the fact that the Army Corps of Engineers did not express (until August 1975) its official intent to proceed with the project as planned. Furthermore, defendants have failed to show that this delay has caused them undue prejudice since expenditures on the project began long before January 1975 and would have continued even if the suit had been filed earlier. Noting that material issues of fact exist, the court denies defendants' motion to dismiss under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure rule 12(b)(6) without prejudice to their right to raise the same motion at trial.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Edward H. Booker
2833 Gen. Pershing St., New Orleans LA 70115
(504) 891-4414

Counsel for Defendants
John R. Schupp, Robert L. Boese, Jr., Ass't U.S. Attorneys
Federal Bldg., 500 Camp St., New Orleans LA 70130
(504) 589-2921