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Mountainbrook Homeowners Ass'n v. Adams

Citation: 9 ELR 20686
No. No. A-C-79-106, 492 F. Supp. 521/(W.D.N.C., 07/31/1979)

The court dismisses an action by homeowners seeking an injunction ordering the removal from adjoining lands of waste rock produced by a federally funded highway project. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants failed to comply with the provisions of the project's environmental impact statement (EIS) by disposing of the rock in this manner. Pointing out that the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) provides no express private cause of action for statutory violations, the court refuses to find a private cause of action implicit in the Act. Characterizing plaintiffs' suit as essentially a state law trespass or taking claim, the court determines that implying a federal cause of action in these circumstances would be inconsistent with NEPA's underlying purpose of protecting the national environment. The court acknowledges that many federal courts have enjoined federal projects in private actions to compel the preparation of an EIS, but it asserts that in no case has a private party successfully maintained an action based on the failure to comply with the provisions of the EIS in carrying out the project. The court also rejects plaintiffs' additional allegation that the dumping of the rock constitutes a new and discrete major federal action which requires a separate EIS. The rock disposal is not a separate action but a necessary component of the highway project. Finally, the court notes that even if plaintiffs did have a cause of action under NEPA, the issuance of an injunction requiring removal of the rock would still be inappropriate.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Robert B. Long, Jr., David E. Matney, III
Long, McClure, Parker, Hunt & Trull
P.O. Box 7053, Asheville NC 28807
(704) 258-2296

Counsel for Defendants
Harold M. Edwards, U.S. Attorney
P.O. Box 132, Asheville NC 28802
(704) 258-2850

James B. Richmond, Special Deputy Attorney General
P.O. Box 25201, Raleigh NC 27611
(919) 733-4185

George Ward Hendon
Adams, Hendon & Carson
601 First Union Nat'l Bank Bldg., Asheville NC 28801
(704) 252-7381