Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

Coon v. Willet Dairy

ELR Citation: 37 ELR 20191
Nos. Nos. 5:02-CV-1195, 5:04-CV-917, (N.D.N.Y., 07/17/2007)

A district court dismissed on motions for summary judgment individuals' Clean Water Act (CWA), Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Rivers and Harbors Act, and state-law claims against a dairy that runs a concentrated animal feeding operation. The individuals, who live near the dairy, argued that the dairy filled, dammed, or diverted streams and discharged waste into the ground and water causing flooding of the individuals' properties and contamination of their wells. They also contended that they suffered personal injuries and emotional distress, lost the use and enjoyment of streams and land, and lost business opportunities. The court dismissed some of the CWA claims because the state already entered into a consent decree with the dairy with respect to those claims. As for the remaining CWA claims, the dairy did not need a permit to discharge fill material in constructing a farm pond because permits are not required for the construction of new farm ponds on existing farming operations, and the CWA's §402(k) permit shield protects a CWA permitholder from facing suits challenging the adequacy of its permit. The court dismissed the individuals' RCRA claim because it was based on the same activities and substances that the CWA permit covered. If the court allowed the RCRA claim to proceed, it would be construing RCRA as inconsistent with the CWA's permit shield. And because the Rivers and Harbors Act does not confer a private right of action, that claim was also dismissed. As for the remaining state-law claims, the court declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over them. It therefore dismissed those claims without prejudice.