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Reeger v. Mill Serv., Inc.

ELR Citation: 14 ELR 20899
Nos. No. 84-1418, 592 F. Supp. 1266/21 ERC 2163/(W.D. Pa., 09/12/1984) Ruling on governmental liability

The court holds that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources and two of its officials are immune under the Eleventh Amendment from a due process claim alleging failure to enforce state hazardous waste laws, and that a cause of action under the Federal Civil Rights Act against the two officials is superseded by the comprehensive enforcement schemes in the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the Clean Air Act. The court first notes that the Eleventh Amendment bars suits against state officials when the state is the real, substantial party in interest, whether damages or injunctive relief are sought. The exception for claims that the state officials acted pursuant to an unconstitutional state statute does not apply here, where plaintiffs allege that a state official has violated a valid state law. Turning to the Civil Rights Act cause of action, the court holds that the existence of express remedies in the citizen suit provisions of RCRA and the Clean Air Act demonstrates that Congress intended to supplant any remedies under the Civil Rights Act. Finally, the court notes that plaintiffs' pendent state claims fail to state causes of action or are barred by the Eleventh Amendment.

[Another opinion in the case appears at 14 ELR 20900.]

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Henry G. Beamer III
Metz, Cook, Hanna, Welsh, Bluestone & Beamer
408 Grant Bldg., Pittsburgh PA 15219
(412) 281-6060

Counsel for Defendants
James D. Morris
Department of Environmental Resources
1314 Chestnut St., Philadelphia PA 19107
(215) 875-7486

Thomas F. Halloran, Deputy Attorney General
4th Floor, Manor Bldg., 564 Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh PA 15219
(412) 565-7680

John E. Beard III, Susan T. Gelder
Kirkpatrick, Lockhart, Johnson & Hutchison
1500 Oliver Bldg., Pittsburgh PA 15222
(412) 355-6500