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West Virginia State University Board of Governors v. Dow Chemical Co.

ELR Citation: 50 ELR 20141
Nos. 2:17-cv-3558, (S.D.W. Va., 06/01/2020) (Copenhaver, J.)

A district court granted a university board of governors' motion to remand to state court a lawsuit concerning groundwater contamination beneath university land from a nearby facility. The board filed suit in state court, arguing that the facility released volatile and semivolatile organic compounds that caused groundwater contamination beneath the land and seeking remedial measures under state law. The facility owner removed the suit to federal court, invoking federal question jurisdiction on grounds that the board's claims represented a direct challenge to an ongoing EPA-directed cleanup at the facility, diversity jurisdiction on grounds that the university was not an agency or alter ego of the state, and federal officer removal on grounds that it was acting under the direction of federal officers who were supervising the environmental remedial activities. The board contested all three of the owner's bases for removal and moved to remand the suit back to state court. The court found that none of the bases for federal jurisdiction asserted by the owner applied, and granted the board's motion to remand.