Articles Posted in U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals

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Petitioner WildEarth Guardians challenged an Environmental Protection Agency order that denied in part its petition for an objection to a Title V operating permit issued by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to Intervenor Public Service Company of Colorado (d/b/a Xcel Energy), for a coal-fired power station in Morgan County, Colorado. Petitioner argued that the permit should have included a plan to bring the station into compliance with the Clean Air Act. The EPA denied Petitioner's petition for an objection despite the EPA's issuing a citation to Public Service for violating the act in 2002. The EPA concluded that Petitioner's evidence failed to demonstrate a violation, and that the state agency adequately responded to Petitioner's comments before it issued the permit. Petitioner petitioned the Tenth Circuit on appeal. The Court saw no error in the EPA's persuasive interpretation of the demonstration requirement. Furthermore, the Court concluded the agency did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in concluding that Petitioner failed to demonstrate noncompliance with the Act. Therefore the Court affirmed the EPA's order denying in part the petition to object. View "WildEarth v. EPA" on Justia Law

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Petitioner-Appellant Western Watersheds Project (WWP) challenged a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) decision to grant a 10-year grazing permit to LHS Split Rock Ranch, LLC for four federal public land allotments in central Wyoming. WWP asserted that BLM?s decision to grant the grazing permit was arbitrary and capricious because BLM had previously concluded that past grazing was a substantial cause of serious environmental degradation on the allotments. The district court granted summary judgment to BLM. WWP appealed. Finding that the agency did not act arbitrarily or capriciously, the Tenth Circuit affirmed. View "Western Watersheds Project v. BLM" on Justia Law

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The Government filed an interlocutory appeal in an action brought against Defendants Kelly Armstrong, Debbie Cantrup, Richard Cook, Shirley Cook and Copar Pumice Company, Inc. for trespass, conversion, and unjust enrichment. The claims were based on allegations that the Cooks and Copar removed and used undersized pumice from their mine in violation of their settlement agreement with the United States, the Jemez National Recreation Area Act ("JNRAA"), and other applicable regulations. Although the case was pending in district court, the Cooks and Copar filed an interlocutory appeal from discovery orders requiring their former and present law firms to produce documents containing legal advice counsel gave to them regarding the legality of mining, transporting, processing, and marketing pumice from their mine. Specifically, the Cooks and Copar appealed the denial of their motion for protective order and their motion to quash subpoenas, contending that the Tenth Circuit had appellate jurisdiction under the collateral order, "Perlman," and "pragmatic finality" doctrines. The United States filed a motion to dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. Finding that jurisdiction did not arise under any of the cited doctrines, the Tenth Circuit granted the Government's motion to dismiss. View "United States v. Copar Pumice Company, et al" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Roger Schanzenbach owned several properties in the town of Opal on which he intended to install mobile manufactured homes. He applied for permits with town authorities. The town council issued several building permits to Plaintiff but shortly thereafter enacted an ordinance that included a provision banning the installation of any manufactured home that was older than 10 years at the time of the relevant permit application (the 10-Year Rule). When the permits were about to lapse and Plaintiff requested an extension, the town council denied his request. It also rejected his applications for new permits because the proposed houses were more than 10 years old. Plaintiff then sued the town and town council asserting that the 10-Year Rule was preempted by the National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974 as well as a variety of constitutional claims. The district court awarded summary judgment to the defendants. On appeal to the Tenth Circuit, Plaintiff raised claims based on preemption, equal protection, and substantive due process. Upon review, the Court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on these claims. The 10-Year Rule was not preempted and the rule was sufficiently rational to survive an equal-protection or substantive-due-process challenge. View "Schanzenbach v. Town of Opal" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Roger Schanzenbach owned several properties in the town of LaBarge on which he intended to install mobile manufactured homes. He applied for permits with town authorities. The town council initially granted him a building permit for one property but revoked it about two weeks later and then enacted an ordinance that included a provision banning the installation of any manufactured home older than 10 years at the time of the relevant permit application (the 10-Year Rule). Both of Plaintiff's homes were more than 10 years old. The town council denied Plaintiff's applications for a building permit, a variance, and a conditional-use permit to enable him to install the homes despite the 10-Year Rule. Plaintiff thereafter sued, arguing a variety of constitutional claims as well as a claim that the 10-Year Rule was preempted by the National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974. The district court awarded summary judgment to the defendants. On appeal to the Tenth Circuit, Plaintiff raised issues regarding the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause, procedural due process, preemption, municipal authority to enact the 10-Year Rule, and attorney fees. Upon review, the Court held that the takings claim was unripe, the due-process claim failed because Plaintiff did not have a protected property interest, the 10-Year Rule was not preempted, the town had authority to enact the rule, and the attorney-fee issue was moot. View "Schanzenbach v. Town of La Barge" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-Appellant Cinnamon Hills Youth Crisis Center ran a residential treatment facility in St. George, Utah for young people with mental and emotional disorders. It wanted to expand its operations with a "step-down" program hereby participants would live in a separate facility with more responsibility and autonomy that other students in preparation for reentry to society. Cinnamon Hills applied to the City for a zoning variance to use the top floor of a hotel it owned for the program, the City denied its request. Cinnamon Hills subsequently sued the City for discrimination against the disabled. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the City, and Cinnamon Hills appealed. Upon review of the district court record, the Tenth Circuit found that Cinnamon Hills could not prove by the evidence on record, instances of discrimination as it alleged. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the district court's decision in dismissing Cinnamon Hills' claims. View "Cinnamon Hills Youth Crisis v. Saint George City" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs Edward Klen, Diverse Construction, Stephen Klen and Holstein Self-Service Storage, LLC brought a civil rights lawsuit against the City of Loveland Colorado and various City employees alleging "a plethora" of constitutional violations involving: the defendants' alleged imposition of deliberate delays and unreasonable requirements for Plaintiffs' building permit; solicitation of illegal and extortionate fees for the permit; use of perjury in criminal ordinance violation proceedings; retaliation for plaintiffs' exercise of their First Amendment rights; forgery of Plaintiffs' permit application to facilitate a wrongful prosecution; and trespassing by a building inspector. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Defendants on Plaintiffs' federal claims and declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over their state-law claims. Plaintiffs appealed the grant of summary judgment. Upon review, the Tenth Circuit could not agree with the district court's conclusion that there was no causal connection between an alleged affidavit used to support Plaintiffs' claim that they were being selectively prosecuted and the outcome of that prosecution. "It is not possible to determine on this record whether, absent the affidavit, the state municipal court would have dismissed the prosecution against Ed Klen, obviating the need for a no contest plea to avoid the possibility of a trial and even of jail time for the offenses. We therefore reverse summary judgment as to this claim." The court affirmed the district court in all other respects. View "Klen v. City of Loveland" on Justia Law

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The City of Hugo, Oklahoma, and the Hugo Municipal Authority, a public water trust, (collectively "Hugo") contracted with the City of Irving, Texas, ("Irving") for the sale of water Hugo has been allocated or sought to be allocated under permits issued by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board ("Board"). Hugo and Irving brought suit against the nine members of the Board for a declaration that certain Oklahoma laws governing the Board’s water allocation decisions were unconstitutional under the dormant Commerce Clause and an injunction prohibiting their enforcement. The district court granted summary judgment for the Board, and Hugo and Irving appealed. Upon review, the Tenth Circuit concluded that Hugo, as a political subdivision of Oklahoma, lacked standing to sue the Board under the dormant Commerce Clause. Irving, whose injury was solely premised on a contract it entered into with Hugo, likewise could not demonstrate standing because any injury to Irving cannot be redressed. Concluding no plaintiff had the necessary standing, the Court vacated the district court’s order and remanded the case back the district court to dismiss for lack of federal jurisdiction.

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Tarrant Regional Water District ("Tarrant"), a Texas state agency, applied to the Oklahoma Water Resources Board ("the OWRB") for permits to appropriate water at three locations in Oklahoma for use in Texas. Just before filing its applications, Tarrant sued the nine members of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board in the district court for the Western District of Oklahoma and sought a declaratory judgment to invalidate certain Oklahoma statutes that govern the appropriation and use of water and an injunction preventing OWRB from enforcing them. Tarrant alleged that the Oklahoma statutes restricted interstate commerce in water and thereby violated the dormant Commerce Clause as discriminatory or unduly burdensome. Tarrant further alleged that Congress did not authorize Oklahoma through the Red River Compact ("Compact") to enact such laws. OWRB responded that Congress did authorize Oklahoma to adopt these statutes by consenting to the Compact. Tarrant also claimed that the Compact preempted the Oklahoma statutes insofar as the Compact applied to Tarrant’s application to appropriate water located in the Red River Basin. The district court granted summary judgment for OWRB on both the dormant Commerce Clause and Supremacy Clause claims. After that decision, Tarrant took steps to export to Texas Oklahoma water that was not subject to the Compact. Tarrant negotiated a contract with property owners in Stephens County, Oklahoma to export groundwater to Texas and also entered a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Apache Tribe concerning the Tribe’s potential water rights. In court Tarrant then reasserted its dormant Commerce Clause challenge based on these transactions. The district court dismissed the Stephens County matter for lack of standing and the Apache Tribe matter as not ripe. Upon review, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the grants of summary judgment on the dormant Commerce Clause and preemption issues, and the dismissals based on standing and ripeness: [w]e hold that the Red River Compact insulates Oklahoma water statutes from dormant Commerce Clause challenge insofar as they apply to surface water subject to the Compact."