18 ELR 21080 -- United States v. M.C.C. of Florida, Inc.

18 ELR 21080 | Environmental Law Reporter | copyright © 1988 | All rights reserved


United States v. M.C.C. of Florida, Inc.

No. 84-5738 (11th Cir. July 7, 1988)

The court holds that a jury trial is available on the issue of liability for civil penalties under the Rivers and Harbors Act and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, in accordance with the Supreme Court's opinion in Tull v. United States, 17 ELR 20667. The Supreme Court had remanded the case to this court for further consideration in light of Tull. A jury is not available on the amount of the penalty to be imposed. Because there were factual disputes in the original trial in this case, the court vacates the judgment of the district court and remands for a new trial on the issue of liability only.

[The district court's original opinion is at 13 ELR 20305; the circuit court's original opinion is at 15 ELR 21091. The Tull decision is analyzed at 17 ELR 10304 and 18 ELR 10127.]

Counsel for Plaintiff-Appellee
Maria A. Iizuka
Land & Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2753

Counsel for Defendants-Appellants
Thomas A. Harris
Milligan, Hooper, Harris & Barry
614 1st Tennessee Bldg., Chattanooga TN 37402
(615) 266-5621

Before CLARK, Circuit Judge, HENDERSON[*], Senior Circuit Judge and HOFFMAN[**], Senior District Judge.

[18 ELR 21080]

PER CURIAM:

The United States brought a civil action against the appellants, M.C.C. of Florida, Inc. and Michael's Construction Company, for violating the River and Harbor Act of 1899, 33 U.S.C. § 401 et seq., and the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. § 1251 et seq. The district court found against the appellants and imposed civil penalties. On appeal, we affirmed the judgment of the district court, and rejected the appellants' argument that it was entitled to a jury trial under the Seventh Amendment. United States v. M.C.C. of Florida, Inc., 772 F.2d 1501 (1985). On a petition by the appellants, the Supreme Court granted certiorari and vacated our judgment, U.S. , 107 S.Ct. 1968, 95 L.Ed.2d 809 (1987), remanding the case for further consideration in light of Tull v. United States, 481 U.S. , 107 S.Ct. 1831, 95 L.Ed.2d 365 (1987). In Tull, the Court held that the Seventh Amendment guarantees a jury trial to determine liability, but not the amount of the fine, in an action by the federal government seeking civil penalties under the Clean Water Act. In light of the factual disputes about liability raised at the initial trial of this case, the judgment of the district court must be vacated and this case must be remanded for a new trial on the issue of liability only by the district court in accordance with the Tull opinion.

We interpret the Supreme Court's remand to affect only that portion of our prior opinion captioned "Jury Trial," 772 F.2d at 1506-07. Thus, the remaining portions of our opinion are the law of the case. We remand to the district court for a jury trial on the issue of liability. If the jury returns a verdict for the United States, the district court will be guided by that part of our opinion captioned "Remedy," 772 F.2d at 1507-08.

REMANDED.

* See Rule 3(b), Rules of U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

** Honorable Walter E. Hoffman, Senior U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia, sitting by designation.


18 ELR 21080 | Environmental Law Reporter | copyright © 1988 | All rights reserved