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Downstate Stone Co. v. United States

ELR Citation: 11 ELR 20693
Nos. No. 80-2491, 651 F.2d 1234/(7th Cir., 06/19/1981)

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals vacates the district court's preliminary injunction and holds that it was error to enjoin the United States from criminally prosecuting appellee for violation of Forest Service regulations during the pendency of a quiet title action involving limestone deposits in the Shawnee National Forest. The court finds that there is a heavy presumption against enjoining criminal prosecutions and that appellee does not fit into any of the recognized exceptions to that rule. Appellee does not challenge the validity, constitutionality, or applicability of the statute, the criminal prosecution would not relitigate issues raised in the quiet title action, and the government's action is not arbitrary and capricious and does not deprive appellee of any property rights. Moreover, appellee's success on the merits is questionable, appellee has not established that it will suffer irreparable harm, and the government's interest in managing scarce natural resources outweighs appellee's potential economic injury. Finally, the injunction is contrary to a federal statute which provides that, during the pendency of a quiet title action, control and possession of disputed property remains with the United States. A concurring opinion would reverse and vacate on the ground that the statute constitutes a waiver of sovereign immunity which must be construed strictly and cannot be extended by implication.

Counsel for Appellee
Edward G. Maag
Walker & Williams
4343 W. Main St., Belleville IL 62223
(618) 277-1000

David S. Acker
Winston & Strawn
Suite 5000, One First Nat'l Plaza, Chicago IL 60603
(312) 558-5600

Counsel for Appellant
James R. Burgess Jr., U.S. Attorney
750 Missouri Ave., Room 330, East St. Louis IL 62201
(618) 274-2200

Robert L. Klarquist, David C. Shilton; James W. Moorman, Ass't Attorney General
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2731

Before SPRECHER, Circuit Judge, NICHOLS, Associate Judge,* and CUDAHY, Circuit Judge.