Stoel Rives environmental law attorney Kristen Castaños spoke to Law360 about a recent Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision that held the Los Angeles County Flood Control District liable for excessive stormwater pollution. The decision followed a unanimous ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case, that struck down the appeals court's earlier decision that water traveling through storm sewer systems between separate portions of a river represented a discharge under the Clean Water Act.
The Ninth Circuit's finding of liability for pollution in excess of permitted levels was a reversal of its prior ruling, in which it held that the plaintiffs must submit additional proof of individual contributions to the measured permit violations. "[The ruling] seems results-oriented, like the Ninth Circuit was looking for a way to find a violation," observed Castaños. "It's an unusual approach to go back and reinterpret this way when there were no new facts or new evidence."
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Download the Ninth Circuit's latest ruling in NRDC v. County of Los Angeles (PDF)
"9th Circ. Stormwater Flip Should Catch High Court's Eye" was published by Law360, August 12, 2013.