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Johnsrud v. Carter

ELR Citation: 10 ELR 20285
Nos. No. 79-1950, 620 F.2d 29/(3d Cir., 04/23/1980)

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals reverses a district court's dismissal of an action seeking an injunctive order requiring the United States to warn all residents within 200 miles of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant of the radiation hazards associated with the accident that occurred there in 1979. The trial court erred in ruling that the action was barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity; the Administrative Procedure Act expressly waives immunity from suits such as this, which are based on equity rather than a specific statutory provision authorizing judicial review of agency action. The lower court similarly erred in dismissing the suit on the ground that it raises a political question. Without expressing its views on the merits of this issue, the court of appeals emphasizes that the issue goes to the merits of the case not to whether the district court had jurisdiction. Since plaintiffs' claims were not frivolous or insubstantial, the lower court properly had jurisdiction and erroneously granted defendants' motion to dismiss.

Counsel for Appellants
Robert F. Gary, Donna Baker
1138 Pine St. #301, Philadelphia PA 19107

Counsel for Appellees
William J. McGettigan, Robert E. Kopp, Joseph B. Scott; Alice Daniel, Acting Ass't Attorney General
Civil Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-3389

Peter F. Vaira Jr., U.S. Attorney
3310 U.S. Courthouse, Independence Mall West, Philadelphia PA 19106
(215) 597-2556

Joined by Gibbons and Garth, JJ.