Ninth Circuit Reverses Itself, Finds Liability for Excessive Stormwater Pollution

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Stoel Rives environmental law attorney Kristen CastaƱos 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 CastaƱos. "It's an unusual approach to go back and reinterpret this way when there were no new facts or new evidence."

Read the full article on Law360 (subscription required)

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.

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