June 1, 2016

PLF Unanimously Wins 8th Straight Supreme Court Decision

By PLF Unanimously Wins 8th Straight Supreme Court Decision

PLF won a precedent-setting victory for property owners’ rights when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in our favor in the PLF case of United States Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes. The groundbreaking decision accepted PLF’s arguments that landowners have a right to seek judicial review when their property is designated as wetlands subject to federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act.

PLF Director of Communications Jim Burling hosts a round table discussion with PLF case attorneys Reed Hopper and Mark Miller, client Kevin Pierce, and Gray Plant Mooty Principal Attorney Nancy Burke discussing the implications of the case for property owners around the country.

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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes

Hawkes Company is a family-owned business in Minnesota that harvests peat moss, for landscaping. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers improperly claimed jurisdiction over the property as regulated wetlands. This put Hawkes in the untenable position of (1) abandoning all use of the land at great loss; (2) spending several hundred thousand dollars to seek an unnecessary federal permit; or (3) using the land without federal approval at the risk of $37,500-a-day fines and criminal prosecution. When Hawkes challenged the Corps in court, lower courts dismissed the case as unripe for review. But the Supreme Court disagreed, holding that a Jurisdictional Determination is a binding legal decision subject to immediate judicial challenge.

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