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Idaho Sporting Congress v. Computrol, Inc.

ELR Citation: 27 ELR 21040
Nos. 96-0027-S-BLW, 952 F. Supp. 690/(D. Idaho, 12/17/1996)

The court refuses to dismiss an environmental group's Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) claim against a sport fishing equipment manufacturer, but dismisses a coalition of hunters, fishermen, backpackers, and other outdoor enthusiasts as a plaintiff in the case. The court first holds that the environmental organization's citizen suit alleging historical violations of EPCRA by the manufacturer is permitted because EPCRA authorizes citizen suits for wholly past, not just ongoing, violations of the statute. The court notes, based on the language of the environmental group's complaint and its 60-day notice letter, that the complaint also alleges ongoing violations of EPCRA. The court next dismisses the coalition from the case because the coalition may not rely on the environmental group's 60-day notice letter to join the lawsuit. The language of EPCRA supports the argument that each prospective plaintiff in an EPCRA suit has an independent obligation to comply with the statute's notice requirements. Also, the purpose of the notice requirement in citizen suits under environmental statutes is to afford the parties an opportunity to reach a negotiated settlement to their dispute during the notice period. This purpose cannot be achieved when the parties entitled to receive notice are not informed of the identities of all other parties to the dispute. The court finally holds that in the absence of an EPCRA-specific statute-of-limitations period, 28 U.S.C. §2462, a five-year statute of limitations, furnishes a relevant statute-of-limitations period for citizen suits that governs this case. Therefore, the environmental group's 1990, 1991, and 1992 claims against the manufacturer are not time barred under EPCRA.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Laird J. Lucas
Land and Water Fund of the Rockies
408 W. Idaho St., Boise ID 83702
(208) 342-7024

Counsel for Defendants
Steven B. Andersen
Holland & Hart
101 S. Capitol Blvd., Ste. 1400, Boise ID 83701
(208) 342-5000