Environmental Defense Fund v. Alexander
Citation: 10 ELR 20302
No. No. 79-2684, 614 F.2d 474/14 ERC 1289/(5th Cir., 03/24/1980) Aff'd
The Fifth Circuit upholds the lower court's dismissal, 9 ELR 20492, a suit to halt completion of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway on grounds of laches. Plaintiffs argued that the planned width of the waterway exceeded the size authorized by Congress in 1946. Although the Secretary of the Army revised the project plans in 1967, plaintiffs raised the issue of width for the first time when they amended their lawsuit in 1978, at which time construction had been underway for six years and the project was 18 percent complete. The court notes that Congress and the project's opponents were aware of the change in plans for at least nine years before the lawsuit was filed in 1976. Discerning no excuse for plaintiffs' delay in challenging the project on this basis, and finding that defendants would be prejudiced if the work were enjoined at this stage because of the proportionately large amount of effort and funds already expended, the court finds the factual premises of the decision below supported by the record and affirms the trial court's conclusion that the action was barred by laches.
Counsel for Plaintiffs
Jon T. Brown
1833 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Suite 1270, Washington DC 20036
James T. B. Tripp
Environmental Defense Fund, Inc.
475 Park Ave. S., New York NY 10016
Counsel for Defendants
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
Ralph E. Pogue
Pogue and Pace
P.O. Drawer E, Aberdeen MS 39730
Hunter M. Gholson
Gholson, Hicks & Nichols
Box 1111, Columbus MS 39701
William T. Stephens, Ass't Attorney General
State Capitol, Montgomery AL 36130
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
P.O. Box 2288, Mobile AL 36628
Before GEWIN, RUBIN and SAM D. JOHNSON, Circuit Judges.