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Quince Orchard Valley Citizens Ass'n v. Hodel

Citation: 19 ELR 20942
No. No. 88-2803, 872 F.2d 75/(4th Cir., 04/07/1989)

The court holds that a district court properly denied a motion for a preliminary injunction in a challenge to federal and state agencies' approval of the conversion of segments of the Seneca State Park in Maryland to highway use. The court first holds that the district court properly concluded that plaintiffs were unlikely to succeed on the merits of their Land and Conservation Fund Act, Federal Water Pollution Control Act, Department of Transportation Act, and National Environmental Policy Act claims. The court holds that the district court properly concluded that plaintiffs will not suffer irreparable harm. Plaintiffs waited nine months after two of the required federal approvals had been granted, and six months after the third, before filing suit, leading the district court to view skeptically their argument that continued construction would result in irreparable harm. The district court properly balanced the harms in favor of the county defendants, since plaintiffs could have brought suit sooner and the county had invested considerable sums in planning costs and contractual commitments in reliance on the federal approvals. Although plaintiffs' delay may not have been serious enough to trigger application of the doctrine of laches, it does indicate an absence of the kind of irreparable harm necessary to support a preliminary injunction.

[A related decision is published at 17 ELR 20499.]

Counsel for Plaintiffs-Appellants
Randal Michael Shaheen, David S. Eggert
Arnold & Porter
1200 New Hampshire Ave NW, Washington DC 20036
(202) 872-6700

Counsel for Defendants-Appellees
Michael Paul Healy, David F. Shuey, Dirk D. Snel
Land and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2000

Before ERVIN, Chief Judge, BUTZNER, Senior Circuit Judge, and JACKSON L. KISER, United States District Judge for the Western District of Virginia, sitting by designation.