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United States v. San Juan Bay Marina

ELR Citation: 31 ELR 20437
Nos. 00-1759, -1760, 239 F.3d 400/(1st Cir., 02/21/2001)

The court affirms a district court decision granting summary judgment in favor of the United States and ordering a commercial marina in Puerto Rico to remove piers and structures it built without the necessary permits in violation of the Rivers and Harbors Act. The marina sought after-the-fact permits for the structures, but the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers rejected the applications. After issuing cease-and-desist orders, the Corps filed the instant suit. Because the record is clear that the marina did not have the necessary permits, the marina sought to avoid the removal, restoration, and cease-and-desist orders on other grounds. The court first holds that, contrary to the marina's argument, Puerto Rico was not an indispensable party under Fed. R. Civ. P. Rule 19 even though the marina leased the property from an entity of the government of Puerto Rico. In the owner's answer to the government's complaint the marina stated that it was the sole owner of the property in question. Further, the lease makes the marina responsible for obtaining all permits, and the structures at issue in this case were built on submerged lands outside the leased property. Additionally, the orders do not impair Puerto Rico's ability to protect the property's original piers and structures. The court next rejects the marina's arguments that it was in the public interest for the Corps to issue the permits after the fact, that there were material facts in dispute, and that the cease-and-desist orders were improperly signed.

The full text of this decision is available from ELR (12 pp., ELR Order No. L-339).

Counsel for Plaintiff
Camille Velez-Rive, Ass't U.S. Attorney
U.S. Attorney's Office
452 Federal Office Bldg.
150 Carlos E. Chardon Ave.
Hato Rey PR 00918
(787) 766-5656

Counsel for Defendants
Eduardo A. Vera-Ramirez
Ramirez, Lavandero, Landron & Vera
P.O. Box 9020956, Old San Juan PR 00902
(787) 725-1015

[OPINION OMITTED BY PUBLISHER IN ORIGINAL SOURCE]