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Ripplin Shoals Land Co. v. Corps of Eng'rs

ELR Citation: 36 ELR 20055
Nos. No. 05-1289, (8th Cir., 03/17/2006)

The court reverses the dismissal of a developer's suit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) in which it sought to compel the Corps to take action on its application to construct a span bridge under Nationwide Permit 14. The district court dismissed the claim, holding that its prior orders in a related case barred the instant action under the doctrines of res judicata and collateral estoppel. The doctrine of res judicata, however, does not apply. The developer's span bridge application did not yet exist at the time of the earlier decision. Nor do the two cases involve the same causes of action. The first case concerned environmental group's challenge against the Corps for approving the developer's improvements to an existing bridge. Here, the developer is seeking to compel the Corps to act on its application for a new bridge. Similarly, the doctrine of collateral estoppel does not apply. Although the developer intervened in the earlier case, the issue sought to be precluded is not identical to the issue previously decided, the prior action did not result in a final adjudication on the merits of the instant case, and the developer was not given a full and fair opportunity to be heard on the issue of its span bridge application.