Saturday, May 4, 2013

International Paper Co. v. Ouellette case brief

International Paper Co. v. Ouellette case brief
479 U.S. 481 (1987)

CASE SYNOPSIS: Certiorari was granted to review a decision from the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which denied a motion to dismiss brought by petitioner paper mill operator and held that an action by respondents, Vermont lakeside property owners, to redress interstate water pollution could be maintained under the continuing nuisance law of the state in which the injury occurred.

FACTS: The property owners filed suit under Vermont state law against the paper mill operator for creating a continuing nuisance caused by pollutants discharged into the lake. The Clean Water Act (CWA), 33 U.S.C.S. § 1251 et seq., established a federal permit program to regulate the discharge of pollutants. Under the CWA, a regulatory partnership was created between the federal government and the state that was the source of the pollutant. Reversing the lower court's finding that Vermont law governed the suit, the Court found that the CWA precluded the Court from applying Vermont law against the paper mill operator. Because bringing suit under Vermont law as the affected state would have disrupted the balance of interests established under the CWA, the Court held that Vermont law was inapplicable to the paper mill operator because the point source of the pollution was New York. While reversing the application of Vermont law, the Court affirmed the denial of the paper mill operator's motion to dismiss, noting that the CWA did not prohibit the property owners from bringing a state nuisance claim under the law of the polluting source state.
CONCLUSION: The Court reversed the part of the judgment that was based on application of the law of the affected state and affirmed the part of the judgment denying the paper mill operator's motion to dismiss. The Court remanded the case for further proceedings consistent with the Court's opinion.
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