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United States v. Cundiff

555 F.3d 200 (2009)

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United States v. Cundiff

United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

555 F.3d 200 (2009)

Facts

Rudy and Seth Cundiff (plaintiffs) bought property containing wetlands that fed into Pond and Caney Creeks, tributaries of the Green River. The wetlands affected the Green River and the two creeks by storing water, filtering acid runoff and sediment, and supporting plants and wildlife. Rudy Cundiff wanted to farm on the property, so he dug ditches, cleared the property, and filled the wetlands. The United States Environmental Protection Agency notified Cundiff that he had violated the Clean Water Act by introducing pollutants into the water without a permit and ordered him to restore the wetlands. Cundiff ignored the notifications, and the United States (plaintiff) sought injunctive relief and civil penalties. The district court granted summary judgment for the United States, and Cundiff appealed. While the appeal was pending, the Supreme Court issued an opinion, Rapanos v. United States, addressing the issue of what constitutes waters of the United States for purposes of jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. The court of appeals remanded the case to the district court to decide whether the wetlands fell under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act in light of Rapanos. The district court ruled in favor of the United States, and Cundiff appealed. Cundiff argued that the wetlands did not meet the definition of waters of the United States because it was not clear whether water perpetually flowed between the wetlands and a body of water connected to navigable waters.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Martin, J.)

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