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Montijo-Reyes v. United States

ELR Citation: 36 ELR 20021
Nos. No. 05-1353, (1st Cir., 01/24/2006)

The court affirms the grant of summary judgment in favor of the United States in property owners' Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) action for damages to their homes in Puerto Rico resulting from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' (the Corps') disposal of dredged material on a nearby beach. The owners' claims are barred by the discretionary function exception of the FTCA. The owners argued that the discharge of dredged material on the beach was nondiscretionary because the Clean Water Act (CWA) mandated a course of conduct for the Corps to follow before disposing of dredged material. But the CWA and Puerto Rico's water quality regulations do not overcome the discretionary function exemption where, as here, the owners failed to allege a causal connection between the violation and their asserted damages. Neither the CWA nor the regulations provide any prescription aimed at preventing private property damage arising from negligent site selection or site maintenance.