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Reichelt v. Corps of Eng'rs

ELR Citation: 27 ELR 21539
Nos. 2:93 cv 332, 969 F. Supp. 519/(N.D. Ind., 08/02/1996) motion for leave to amend counterclaim granted

The court holds that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) may amend its answer to add counterclaims to its Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA) enforcement action against plaintiffs who brought an action for denial of a fill permit. The court first holds that equitable estoppel prevents the statute of limitations from barring the Corps' enforcement action. Plaintiffs agreed to toll the statute of limitations for 90 days following the disposition of the pending summary judgment motions. It would be unfair for plaintiffs to claim that the Corps missed the filing deadline when they agreed to the proposition. Next, the court holds that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency properly delegated enforcement of FWPCA §404 unpermitted discharge violations to the Corps. The court then grants leave to the Corps to amend its answer. The Corps' delay in filing its counterclaim was a result of waiting to settle the case or to receive a ruling on summary judgment motions. Because plaintiffs would not be prejudiced, and the delay was not a result of bad faith, justice requires granting leave to amend the counterclaims.

[A prior decision in this litigation is published at 26 ELR 21343.]

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Michael L. Muenich
Hand, Muenich, Wilk & Reid
3235 45th St., Highland IN 46322
(219) 922-4141

Counsel for Defendant
Timothy Burns
Environment and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 514-2000