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Hudson Riverkeeper Fund v. Harbor at Hastings Assocs.

ELR Citation: 26 ELR 21120
Nos. 94 Civ. 2742 (CLB), 917 F. Supp. 251/(S.D.N.Y., 03/05/1996)

The court holds that New York State's diligent prosecution of an owner of industrial property and the lessees of the property in statecourt bars a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) §7002(a)(1)(A) and (B) citizen suit seeking a remediation plan and attorney fees. The court first holds that the state action is equivalent to a RCRA enforcement action, even though the state's complaint did not specifically refer to RCRA as its legal basis. The New York state court's breadth of jurisdiction and its rules of pleading lead the court to conclude that any suit arising out of an occurrence that implicates RCRA is being brought under the statute. Furthermore, under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution and the state court's own organic laws and statutes, the state supreme court must invoke and apply all of RCRA's appropriate provisions to the pending state action, even if RCRA violations were not alleged in the complaint. The court next holds that the state diligently prosecuted its action; the parties have engaged in significant settlement discussions. In addition, even though the state action is against different parties than the citizen suit, policy concerns dictate barring the citizen suit to prevent the plaintiffs from controlling the state litigation. Finally, the court holds that a building from which trash was allegedly released into a river is not a "point source" within the meaning of §502(14) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Karl S. Coplan
Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic
78 N. Broadway, White Plains NY 10603
(914) 422-4343

Counsel for Defendants
Matthew Hoffman
Rosen & Reade
757 Third Ave., New York NY 10017
(212) 303-9000