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Save Our Wetlands v. Corps of Eng'rs

ELR Citation: 7 ELR 20353
Nos. No. 75-1750, 549 F.2d 1021/9 ERC 2026/(5th Cir., 04/04/1977) Aff'd

The Fifth Circuit affirms a lower court's judgment that plaintiffs' suit seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against dredging in Lake Pontchartrain by a developer is barred by laches. Plaintiffs alleged that the Corps had issued a dredging permit to the developer pursuant to §10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 without complying with the requirements of NEPA. The residential development was substantially complete at the time the suit was brought, and plaintiffs knew of the project long before this action was filed. The extensive public advertising and visibility of the project put plaintiffs on notice that the environmental effects of construction might occur before an EIS was prepared, and the delay in bringing the suit until 19 months after the permit was issued and two-and-one-half years after the application had been filed was thus inexcusable. This delay has caused undue prejudice to defendants, who have expended over $26 million on the project. Moreover, because the development is substantially completed, preparation of an EIS at this time would produce little, if any, environmental benefit.

Counsel for Plaintiffs-Appellants
Plauche F. Villere Jr., Luke Fontana
Lenfant & Villere
Richards Bldg., 837 Gravier St., New Orleans LA 70112
(504) 523-4291

Counsel for Defendants-Appellees
Gerald A. Gallinghouse, U.S. Attorney; John R. Schupp, Ass't U.S. Attorney
Federal Bldg., 500 Camp St., New Orleans LA 70130
(504) 589-2921

George R. Hyde, Robert L. Klarquist
Department of Justice
Washington DC 20530
(202) 737-8200

%stephen A. Duczer, Ralph L. Kaskell Jr.
Duczer, Alford & Berrigan
2019 Second St., Slidell LA 70459
(504) 643-6440

Harry S. Anderson, Charles K. Reasonover
Deutsch, Kerrigan & Stiles
One Shell Square, New Orleans LA 70139
(504) 581-5141

For himself, Brown, C.J., & Fay, J.