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Reynoldsburg, City of v. Browner

ELR Citation: 24 ELR 20470
Nos. No. C2-92-882, 834 F. Supp. 963/(S.D. Ohio, 06/24/1993)

The court holds that a municipality may maintain its action against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Ohio EPA seeking to compel them to perform certain non-discretionary duties required by §208 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA). Section 208 relates to actions state and federal agencies must take regarding areawide waste treatment management plans, which are to be administered by local government. The court first holds that the case involved a federal question and that it has subject matter jurisdiction to hear the case. The action satisfies the test for general federal question jurisdiction because FWPCA duties that are central to the action are pivotal and substantial federal elements, and these elements appear in the municipality's well-pleaded complaint. Next the court denies the defendants' Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, because the municipality's claims of water quality mismanagement state a cause of action under the FWPCA.

The court holds that the Eleventh Amendment does not bar this action. This action falls within a narrow exception to the general rule that the Eleventh Amendment bars suits against a state and state officials. Under U.S. Supreme Court case law, a suit challenging a state official's action as violative of the U.S. Constitution or federal law is not one against the state and is not barred by the Eleventh Amendment. The municipality alleges that the Ohio defendants failed to certify and approve annually the waste treatment management plan for their area to EPA, as required by the FWPCA. Therefore, Eleventh Amendment immunity cannot shield the defendants from failing to carry out the requirements of the Act. Finally, the court holds that the municipality has standing to bring this action. The municipality alleges sufficient geographical connection to the affected watershed and sufficient economic injuries, which are fairly traceable to the defendants' conduct and are redressable assuming a favorable decision.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Christopher R. Schraff
Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur
41 S. High St., Columbus OH 43215
(614) 227-2000

Counsel for Defendant
James E. Rattan, Ass't U.S. Attorney
U.S. Attorney's Office
200 CtHse., 85 Marconi Blvd., Columbus OH 43215
(614) 469-5715