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United States v. CF Indus.

Citation: 12 ELR 21143
No. No. Civil 4-81-752, 542 F. Supp. 952/18 ERC 1172/(D. Minn., 07/15/1982)

The court rules that an action for civil penalties under § 309(d) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA) for an unpermitted discharge of water pollution resulting from a spill from a Mississippi River barge is not subject to the Limitation of Shipowner's Liability Act. Since the language of the 1851 Limitation Act and the enforcement provisions of the FWPCA are in conflict and Congress did not indicate which statute is controlling, the more recent one governs. The enforcement provisions of the FWPCA must be viewed as exceptions to the Liability Act. In addition, the public policy of environmental protection in the FWPCA is stronger and more important than that of protection of the United States shipping industry embodied in the Limitation Act. A holding favoring the FWPCA infringes little on the purpose of the older statute, while a holding in favor of the Limitation Act would vitiate the effect of the FWPCA civil penalties since they would then have no impact on defendants' total liability for the spill. Finally, the court rules that while the United States could have sought an exemption from the Limitation Act in the limitation proceeding itself, such a procedure was not required.

Counsel for Plaintiff
James M. Rosenbaum, U.S. Attorney; Ann D. Montgomery
596 U.S. Cthse., 110 S. 4th St., Minneapolis MN 55401
(612) 332-8961

Nancy J. Marvel
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-5260

Counsel for Defendant CF Industries
Eugene M. Warlick, Stephen T. Refsell
Doherty, Rumble & Butler
3750 IDS Tower, 80 S. 8th St., Minneapolis MN 55402
(612) 340-5555

James W. Rankin, L. Mark Wine, A. Zigterman
Kirkland & Ellis
200 E. Randolph Dr., Chicago IL 60601
(312) 861-2000

Counsel for Defendants Southern & Memphis Towing Cos.
Thomas T. Flynn
Larkin, Hoffman, Daly & Lindgren
Suite 1500, Northwestern Financial Ctr., 7900 S. Xerxes Ave., Minneapolis MN 55431
(612) 835-3800

Gary T. Sacks
Goldstein & Price
1300 Paul Brown Bldg., 818 Olive St., St. Louis MO 63101
(314) 421-0710