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Reeves Bros. v. EPA

ELR Citation: 27 ELR 21016
Nos. 94-0053-L, 956 F. Supp. 676/(W.D. Va., 04/29/1996)

The court denies a private-property owner injunctive relief on its claim that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and EPA employees violated the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution when an EPA emergency response team entered onto the property without a warrant and removed water and soil samples. The property owner failed to produce evidence indicating that there is an EPA policy of conducting warrantless searches. The property owner relies on a single incident and the ominous statements of an EPA official indicating EPA's intention to return. Those statements are countered by those of her supervisor, expressing EPA's intention to henceforth conduct itself properly. The court holds that there must be a realistic, cognizable danger of future harm. One incident is insufficient to establish this danger. The court notes that if EPA fails to obtain a proper warrant forfuture searches of plaintiff's property, any court would be hard-pressed to find that the Agency does not pursue a policy of illegal searches.

[Another opinion in this litigation is published at 27 ELR 21011.]

Counsel for Plaintiff
Timothy E. Cupp
Cupp & Cupp
510 E. Market St., Harrisonburg VA 22801
(540) 432-9988

Counsel for Defendants
John F. Corcoran, Ass't U.S. Attorney
U.S. Attorney's Office
Thomas B. Mason Bldg.
105 Franklin Rd. SW, Ste. 1, Roanoke VA 24011
(540) 857-2250