Skip to comments.Sacramento lawyer wins key environmental ruling from U.S. Supreme Court
Posted on 03/29/2012 11:33:17 AM PDT by WilliamIII
A Supreme Court decision last week involving an Idaho couple had special meaning for one Sacramento lawyer.
For Damien Schiff, the ruling was the skier's equivalent of an Olympic gold medal, or a tennis player winning Wimbledon.
At the age of 32, Schiff accomplished something few attorneys ever experience: He argued a case before the U.S. Supreme Court and won.
On March 21, the court declared Schiff and his clients victorious in a case against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The decision overturned decades of lower-court precedent that prevented property owners from suing the agency after being served with a Clean Water Act violation.
The ruling means landowners nationwide can now contest those violations in court, rather than being limited to administrative measures.
"It was a nerve-wracking experience going into it," said Schiff. "It's one of those things that one goes into with a good deal of trepidation, particularly for me, since I'm fairly young when it comes to being an advocate in the Supreme Court."
Schiff is an attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation, a nonprofit law firm based in Sacramento that is generally known for its conservative leanings. The firm represented Mike and Chantell Sackett, of Priest Lake, Idaho, at no charge.
(Excerpt) Read more at sacbee.com ...
This is really big!!! One of the tactics of the EPA is to label your property as a Superfund site while in the investigative stage...putting the property on hold for long periods of time. Our family had a property that was put on hold for over twenty years while the EPA cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars while we had no recourse through the courts because it remained continuously in the “investigative stage”. This is a huge win against tyranny!!!
Good for this attorney.
Having hit a home run early in his career, he will likely have no lack of work until he retires. And I hope that in the process he makes the alphabet Fed agencies wet their pants at the very mention of his name.
I hate the EPA, among other certain corrupt, criminal, insidious state & federal gov’t agencies. The destroyed my Family’s 200-acre, 22-year, $8.5mm Farming Business, along with thousands of other Family Farms and related ag-hort businesses, over the past 3-4 years. They need to be, be, be... I’m not going to say it. I rejoice when they lose on anything.
I drove that country a couple of years back.
Someone wants the Inland Empire—all to himself.
The Pacific Legal Foundation has been doing great work in this area of the law for almost four decades. They’ve been involved in a number of high profile property rights cases, including a long battle with the California Coastal Commission. They also fight free enterprise causes. They’re donor funded, and well worth consideration when you start figuring out how to get the maximum “bang” for your non-profit contributions. Their newsletter chronicles government abuses of authority.
If you tried to take this to court, did they tell you that you lacked standing to file suit for an inverse condemnation?
Thanks, cb. With mega-giant-corps like ADM etc really running the EPA and US Gov’t/state gov’ts, we don’t have a prayer. I’m glad it’s over and I’m out of it. When the business/property is finally sold, I’ll come out okay. At 62, this “forced retirement” is not my cup-o-tea, and starting a new business in this poisoned atmosphere, isn’t an option until after we all see what happens on Nov 6. Then, all Real Americans will face a crossroad.
Our attorneys never suggested taking it to court at that point...we were going to pursue “innocent purchaser” claim at the time in which we would be able to take it to court...the EPA ended up finally settling the case prior to that point...they did not want to risk losing the case and then having to treat others who also were innocent purchasers fairly. They are an evil organization along the lines of the SS in Nazi Germany...they threaten to take all your property and wealth...not just the property in question. Even when you were not the polluter and in our case even though the property (with “pollution” already on it) was purchased prior to any EPA organization or laws governing these matters.
There's no fine money in that.
Even when you were not the polluter and in our case even though the property (with pollution already on it) was purchased prior to any EPA organization or laws governing these matters.
Just curious, did you know when you bought it that the chemical contaminants were there or was that discovered later? Was this equivalent to a gas station, plating shop, foundry, wrecking yard, etc?
One of the interesting side effects of this crap is that in many cases businesses of that sort were located by county planners near watersheds and in flood plains. For example, here in the California Bay Area, I can well remember the auto wrecking yards located side-by-side near both the Bay and the Sacramento River. I've always wondered if that was a deliberate screw-job. I've seen many an instance in which people put a business on land to hold it for speculative purposes getting it taken by enviros once the big guys wanted it.
Cry Havoc! and loose the lawyers! of (well, not war, perhaps of restitution)
Heard Mr. Sackett interviewed on the Lars Larsen Show (West coast stuff). He was emphatic that no other firm could have handled the case, and his family would have been bankrupted had they not found PLF.
Not suitable places for residences. A concept known before the advent of modern urban planning.
The site was a former smelter site...and no, there was no awareness or laws in 1961 when the property was purchased. The slag was used after the purchase for railroad beds and for sandblasting abrasives. The remaining slag was spread out over the property and then capped...that was the remediation.
Because the purchase was made at a time before there was regulation, laws or even reasonable awareness there was a good chance of winning in the courts as an “innocent purchaser” which then would put the burden on the public to pay for the remediation. In other words, if there was no one left to reasonably blame and if it is for the public good then the public should bear the burden (cost) for the remediation. The EPA dragged it’s feet for over twenty years then after President Bush (W) was elected they became more reasonable and realistic and settled. The property has been mostly developed now as a mixed use site. It includes office, retail, lite industrial (warehousing), and some residential. The tax base of the local municipality was enhanced, jobs were created, an eye sore was replaced with beautiful park like scenery and commerce takes place daily enriching many lives. Quite an improvement over what it was before!
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