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United States v. Board of Trustees of Fla. Keys Community College

Citation: 12 ELR 20391
No. No. 80-2894-Civ-CA, 531 F. Supp. 267/18 ERC 1188/(S.D. Fla., 09/03/1981) Judgment for plaintiff

The court orders defendants to pay civil fines and provide mitigation areas as penalties for filling a mangrove wetland without a permit in violation of § 404 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA) and § 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act. Defendant college hired defendant construction company to remove mangroves from and fill a slough on college property, but negligently failed to obtain the required federal permit. The court rules that defendants' actions constituted violations of the Rivers and Harbors Act and the FWPCA since the slough was a navigable water and the fill material constituted a discharge of polutants. In addition, because civil liability under these statutes is not limited to intentional violations, defendant construction company does not escape liability even though it relied on the college to obtain the necessary permits. The court notes that it has authority to require total restoration of the area. But because there exists an alternative area for mitigation and for other reasons, the court instead imposes civil penalties against both defendants and orders the board of trustees to provide a mitigation area comparable to the destroyed slough.As an alternative, the board may restore the slough to its original condition.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Michael Mitchell, Ass't U.S. Attorney
155 S. Miami Ave., Miami FL 33130
(305) 350-4471

David E. Dearing
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2831

Counsel for Defendants
David Paul Horan
608 Whitehead St., Key West FL 33040
(305) 294-4585