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Superior Oil Co. v. Andrus

ELR Citation: 11 ELR 20525
Nos. No. 80-2649, 656 F.2d 33/(3d Cir., 07/27/1981)

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals reverses the district court's dismissal of appellants' action for improper venue and rules that an action under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) against government defendants may be brought in any judicial district. Appellants brought suit in the District of Delaware challenging appellees' refusal to award them a lease in an outer continental shelf lease sale and alleging venue under the general venue statute, 28 U.S.C. §1391(e)(4). First, the court determines that the venue provisions of the OCSLA, 43 U.S.C. §1349(b)(1), which state that venue lies in the judicial district where any defendant resides or may be found, or in the judicial district of the state nearest the place where the cause of action arose, are exclusive. Next, the court rejects appellees' contention that the "may be found" provision is inapplicable to government defendants, finding that neither the express terms of the OCSLA nor its legislative history distinguish between nongovernment defendants and government defendants. Case law under the general venue statute and basic principles of statutory construction require that the term "may be found" be construed more broadly than the term "resides," and be held to create venue in all of the federal judicial districts. The court concludes that appellees are officially "found" in the District of Delaware and that venue properly lies under the OCSLA. It therefore remands the case to the district court for further proceedings.

The full text of this opinion is available from ELR (19 pp. $3.00, ELR Order No. C-1257).

Counsel for Appellants
John P. Mathis, Charles M. Darling IV, Marilyn Perry Jacobsen
Baker & Botts
1701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington DC 20006
(202) 457-5500

Charles F. Richards Jr.
Richards, Layton & Finger
One Rodney Sq., P.O. Box 551, Wilmington DE 19899
(302) 658-6541

Counsel for Appellees
Anthony C. Liotta, Anne S. Almy, Laura Frossard
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-4427

Garth, J.