Yates v. Island Creek Coal Co.
Citation: 10 ELR 20692
No. No. 78-0285-B, 485 F. Supp. 995/14 ERC 1445/(W.D. Va., 03/05/1980)
Dismissing plaintiffs' suit for damages, the court finds no implied private cause of action under either the Rivers and Harbors Act or the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) for mining activities conducted prior to its passage. Plaintiffs suffered injuries from a flood allegedly caused by defendants' strip-mining operations, which ceased prior to the effective date of SMCRA. The court concludes that the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, which prohibits the discharge of refuse into navigable waters and which does not create a private cause of action on its face, does not create an implied private cause of action because the government, rather than a private plaintiff, is the principal beneficiary of the Act. Rather, such a cause of action is better left to state law. The court next finds no implied private cause of action under the citizen suit provision of SMCRA for failure to reclaim land strip mined before the Act's effective date decause such a construction would be contrary to congressional intent. Finally, the court declines to rule whether the abandoned mine reclamation fund provisions apply because the issue is not ripe for adjudiciation.
Counsel for Plaintiffs
John Jeffrey Fluck
117 N Main St., Abingdon VA 24210
Counsel for Defendants
Larry B. Kirksey
Woodward, Miles & Flannagan
First Fed. Bldg., Bristol VA 24201
Carl E. McAfee
Cline, McAfee & Adkins
Professional Arts Bldg., 1022 Park Ave. SW, Norton VA 24273