Friday, October 14, 2011
Oct 12: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit, Case No. 10-1471. The Appeals Court explains that in 2005, Bill Thiebaut -- the District Attorney for the Tenth Judicial District of Colorado -- filed a lawsuit pursuant to section 1365(a) of the Clean Water Act (CWA) against the City of Colorado Springs (City). Thiebaut named three plaintiffs: (1) himself, in his official capacity as District Attorney, (2) the Office of the District Attorney for the Tenth Judicial District of Colorado, and (3) the People of the State of Colorado (collectively Thiebaut). Thiebaut sought injunctive relief and civil penalties against the City for its alleged discharge of pollutants into a creek in violation of the CWA. The district court granted the City's motion for summary judgment, concluding that Thiebaut lacked standing to bring his claims. Thiebaut has appealed that ruling. The Appeals Court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the City and also held that Thiebaut lacked standing.
Fountain Creek is a watershed that flows through Colorado Springs, Colorado and Pueblo County, Colorado. From 1998 through at least 2007, the City allegedly discharged raw sewage, non-potable water, and chlorine into Fountain Creek in violation of the CWA. The discharges have had a significant adverse impact on Fountain Creek and the recreational opportunities and economy in Pueblo County, Colorado.
The district court rejected all of Thiebaut's arguments. It first stated that Thiebaut did not have direct standing to assert his CWA claims in his official capacity because the Colorado Legislature has not authorized him to file a CWA citizen suit in
federal court. It further stated that Thiebaut did not have parens patriae [i.e. "parent of the nation" or the power and authority of the state to protect persons who are legally unable to act on their own] standing because the Colorado Legislature has not authorized him to invoke the sovereign capacity of the State of Colorado and because "the citizens of Colorado are . . . able to act for themselves in this matter." Finally, the court concluded Thiebaut did not have associational standing because, "[e]ven assuming that the Tenth Judicial District is an 'association' and [that] its citizens are 'members,'" the interests Thiebaut's suit sought to protect are not "germane to his office's purpose."
Thiebaut argued that the district court should have permitted him to remain as a plaintiff in this case after it determined that the Sierra Club had standing. The Appeals Court said, "In other words, Mr. Thiebaut argues that once a court has found that one plaintiff in a case has standing, it must permit all co-plaintiffs to remain in the case even if it determines they do not have standing. We disagree."
The Appeals Court agreed and said in conclusion, "We hold that Mr. Thiebaut does not qualify for parens patriae or associational standing. Additionally, we reject Mr. Thiebaut's 'standing for one is standing for all' theory as applied to this case and hold that the district court did not err in dismissing Mr. Thiebaut's claims even though it determined that the Sierra Club had standing. Because Mr. Thiebaut lacks standing, we affirm the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the City and dismiss this appeal."
Access the complete opinion (click here). [#Water, #CA10]
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Posted by WIMS at 4:19 PM