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United States v. Taylor

ELR Citation: 24 ELR 20486
Nos. No. 92-2284, 8 F.3d 1074/38 ERC 1381/(6th Cir., 10/28/1993)

The court holds moot landowners' challenge to a district court order granting the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) access to contaminated property and vacates the lower court's assessment of civil penalties for the landowners' refusing the MDNR entry onto the site. The court first holds that the order granting access is moot because the MDNR had already completed the remedial investigation for which it sought access to the site. The court thus vacates the order that being the appropriate action when an order appealed from is unreviewable because of mootness. The court next holds that for the purpose of assessing civil penalties, the state has the burden of persuading the court that the landowner acted unreasonably in denying the state's request for access. The court vacates the civil penalty because the district court allocated the burden of proof to the landowner to show that his denial of access was reasonable. The court remands the case for further proceedings on civil penalties, and holds that if the state demonstrates that the landowners should be fined, the district court must articulate a factual basis for the amount of the penalty assessed.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Jeremy M. Firestone, Ass't Attorney General
Attorney General's Office
Law Bldg.
525 W. Ottawa St., P.O. Box 30212, Lansing MI 48909
(517) 373-1110

Counsel for Defendants
Cheri T. Holley
15325 E. Jefferson St., Grosse Pointe Park MI 48230
(313) 882-5384

Before: KEITH, NELSON, and RYAN, Circuit Judges.