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Zarrilli v. Weld

ELR Citation: 25 ELR 20945
Nos. No. 94-11633-WGY, 875 F. Supp. 68/(D. Mass., 02/09/1995)

The court holds that an individual's National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), federal civil rights, and state-law claims against current state and federal officials in connection with the Central Artery project in Boston, Massachusetts, are time barred, and the Eleventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution bars his suit in federal court against state agencies. The court first dismisses the individual's claims against the Massachusetts Port Authority because the Agency has no statutory authority or responsibility for the project. The court next holds that the Eleventh Amendment bars the individual's claims against other Massachusetts state agencies because Massachusetts has not expressly agreed to be sued in federal court and NEPA does not express a congressional intent to establish constructive waiver. The court dismisses the individual's claims against former state officials because suits against individuals who served as state officers cannot be maintained once the individuals stop serving in an official capacity. The court notes that NEPA applies to current state officials because Massachusetts has entered into a partnership with the federal government with respect to the project's construction and the federal government is largely funding the project. But the court holds that the individual's 42 U.S.C. §1983 action against current state officials, which he bases on alleged NEPA violations, is time barred because courts apply state statutes of limitations in §1983 actions and the limitations period in Massachusetts is three years. The individual's claim accrued on the date of the record of decision in which state and federal officials gave their final approval for the project's final environmental impact statement (EIS), and that date was eight years before he filed his August 1994 complaint. The court rejects the individual's argument that his claim accrued when the government filed the last supplemental EIS for the project, because the decision to proceed with the project was final in January 1986. The court, however, grants the individual leave to refile any claims that arise out of actions state officers took between August 1991 and August 1994. The court next dismisses the individual's claims against former federal officers for the same reason it dismissed his claims against former state officials, and holds time barred the individual's challenges to the government's 1986 final EIS because all civil rights actions against the U.S. government are subject to a six-year limitations period. But the court grants the individual leave to refile any claims based on actions taken within the limitations period.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Vincent F. Zarrilli
P.O. Box 101, Hanover Station, Boston MA 02113
(617) 523-9210

Counsel for Defendants
Phyllis N. Crocket, Ass't Attorney General
Attorney General's Office
One Ashburton Pl., Boston MA 02108
(617) 727-2200