(CN) – Two waste-disposal companies in Washington presented evidence that the Army Corps of Engineers wrongfully delayed the start of their landfill project, but the Court of Federal Claims refused to grant summary judgment to either side.
Resource Investments and Land Recovery had to obtain 17 permits to open a new landfill in Pierce County, Wash.
One of those permits was required by the Corps to comply with the Clean Air Act. After a lengthy legal battle, the 9th Circuit ruled that the Corps did not have jurisdiction.
The landfill operators filed a Fifth Amendment takings claim against the Corps and sought “just compensation” for the delay in the project. The Corps responded that its incorrect assertion of jurisdiction is not enough to constitute a wrongful taking.
Judge Block denied both sides’ motions for summary judgment.
“Defendant fails to identify any record evidence showing that plaintiffs could have made any other economically viable and legal use of the parcel,” Block wrote.
However, the judge added that the plaintiffs did not prove that they were unduly burdened by the original case regarding the Corps’ mistaken assertion of jurisdiction (Resource I).
“It is clear to this court,” Block ruled, “that plaintiffs are trying to turn the molehill of Resource I into a mountain of extraordinary delay. While plaintiffs certainly have established severe economic impact, this court cannot assess the character of the government action … without relying on contested factual issues.”
Block ordered the parties to prepare a joint status report on the issues to be decided at the upcoming trial.