31 ELR 20011 | Environmental Law Reporter | copyright © 2000 | All rights reserved

Bonide Products, Inc. v. Cahill

No. 99-9107 (223 F.3d 141) (2d Cir. August 22, 2000)

ELR Digest

The court upholds a district court decision dismissing a pesticide manufacturer's malicious prosecution claim against an agent of the New York state environmental agency and dismissing its claim that the agency's use of administrative conservation appearance tickets (ACATs) is unconstitutional. After an explosion and fire at the manufacturer's plant, the agent issued the manufacturer an ACAT in an effort to reach an administrative settlement. When the parties failed to reach a settlement, the agent formally charged the manufacturer for violating state environmental law. A state court dismissed the criminal charges because there was no evidence of any substances being released into the environment. The manufacturer then filed the instant action in federal court.

The court first holds that the agent was entitled to qualified immunity on the manufacturer's claim for malicious prosecution. It was objectively reasonable for the agent to believe that the explosion and fire would have resulted in a release of hazardous substances into the environment. Whether a release actually occurred is not the test employed. The court next holds that the agent enjoyed qualified immunity for using the ACAT. The form has been used for years and it has never been found to violate a clearly established constitutional right. Last, the court holds that the manufacturer lacked standing to challenge the constitutionality of the ACAT. Because the manufacturer was not coerced into paying any money to the state environmental agency, it cannot argue that it was deprived of property.

The full text of this opinion is available from ELR (5 pp., ELR Order No. L-254).

Counsel for Plaintiff
Richard J. Brickwedde
Green & Seifter
One Lincoln Center, Syracuse NY 13202
(315) 422-1391

Counsel for Defendants
John J. Sipos, Ass't Attorney General
Attorney General's Office
State Capitol, Albany NY 12224
(518) 474-7330

[31 ELR 20011]


31 ELR 20011 | Environmental Law Reporter | copyright © 2000 | All rights reserved