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Boler v. Earley

ELR Citation: 46 ELR 20079
Nos. 16-10323, (E.D. Mich., 04/19/2016) (O'Meara, J.)

A district court held it lacks subject matter jurisdiction over a class action lawsuit that stems from the water contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan. The plaintiffs alleged that the city violated their constitutional rights and state law by providing contaminated water and requiring them to pay for it. But the plaintiffs' constitutional claims under §1983 are precluded by the SDWA. The crux of their constitutional claims is that they have been deprived of "safe and potable water." But these allegations are addressed by regulations promulgated by EPA under the SDWA. In addition, the safety of public water systems is a field occupied by the SDWA. The plaintiffs' federal remedy, therefore, falls under the SDWA, regardless of how they frame their legal theories in the complaint. Because the plaintiffs are unable to seek relief under §1983 and have not asserted a claim under the SDWA, only state claims remain. The federal court, therefore, lacks jurisdiction.