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United States v. Detroit, City of

Citation: 33 ELR 20200
No. No. 01-1277, (6th Cir., 05/15/2003) Remanded en banc

The court vacates and remands a district court order under the All Writs Act requiring the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) to accept dredged material in order to prevent the frustration of a consent decree between a city and the state of Michigan addressing water pollution problems around the city. The decree required the dredging and disposal of contaminated sediment. The Corps agreed to disposal, but only if certain conditions were met. The state refused to meet all of the conditions, and the city and state filed suit. Although the Corps was not a party to the consent decree, the All Writs Act provides district courts with authority to bind nonparties in order to prevent the frustration of consent decrees that determine parties' obligations under the law. Here, however, the district court failed to analyze whether the city should have brought suit against the Corps under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) instead of the All Writs Act. Therefore, remand is necessary to determine if the city could have used the APA, and if so, whether the case presents exceptional circumstances that render the APA inadequate, thereby allowing use of the All Writs Act. Remand is also necessary to determine whether the Corps' decision to perform another environmental assessment for disposal of the sediment was arbitrary and capricious.

[Prior decisions in this litigation are published at 31 ELR 20307 and digested at 32 ELR 20440.]

Counsel for Plaintiff
Todd Aagaard
Environment and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 514-2000

Counsel for Defendant
Mark Jacobs
Dykema & Gossett
400 Renaissance Ctr., Detroit MI 48243
(313) 568-6800