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Consolidated Edison Co. of N.Y. v. Allstate Ins. Co.

Citation: 32 ELR 20699
No. No. 39, 98 N.Y.2d 208/(N.Y., 05/03/2002)

The court holds that the owner of a retail development lacked standing to bring Federal-Aid Highway Act (FAHA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) actions against the Secretary of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration (FHwA) for failing to prevent a county from approving the construction of a planned retail development that would allegedly create traffic failure on a federal highway and a nearby state road, and failed to bring an adequate Supremacy Clause claim against the county. The owner alleged that the county knew that the planned development would create traffic failure, but approved it in hope that a new highway access would be approved for the planned development. The court first holds that the owner failed to allege a judicially recognizable injury-in-fact necessary for standing in its FAHA and NEPA suits against the federal defendants. The owner alleged a procedural injury due to the federal defendants' failure to comply with NEPA and the FAHA. A sufficient procedural injury must be based on a specific particularized injury, but the owner failed to demonstrate such an injury. Further, the owner did not qualify for organizational standing through the assertion of injury to employees and shoppers at its development from the alleged traffic failure and environmental impacts caused by traffic congestion. The employees at the development are not the employees of the owner, and there is no precedent allowing for standing based on patrons traveling to and from an establishment. Thus, the interests of the employees and shoppers at the development are not pertinent to the owner's organizational purposes. In addition, the court holds that the owner's Supremacy Clause claim against the county fails because neither the FAHA nor NEPA conflicts with the county's approval of the development. In fact, under the FAHA, local officials are encouraged to engage in planning and zoning that does not modify a federal highway. The county did not modify the federal highway, and, likewise, no major federal action occurred triggering NEPA.

The full text of this decision is available from ELR (23 pp., ELR Order No. L-525).

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Neil T. Proto
Schnader, Harrison, Segal & Lewis
1300 I St. NW, 11th Fl. E., Washington DC 20005
(202) 216-4200

Counsel for Defendants
Richard Parker
U.S. Attorney's Office
2100 Jamieson Ave., Alexandria VA 22314
(703) 299-3700

[OPINION OMITTED BY PUBLISHER IN ORIGINAL SOURCE]