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United States v. Law

979 F.2d 977 (1992)

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United States v. Law

United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

979 F.2d 977 (1992)

Facts

Lewis Law (defendant) was the sole officer and stockholder of Mine Management, Incorporated (MMI) (defendant). MMI engaged in coal-related activities. MMI purchased a large tract of land from the New River Company. The land included an old coal preparation plant, coal refuse (gob piles), and a water-treatment system. The water-treatment system had been installed by New River for the purpose of collecting and discharging runoff and leachate from one of the gob piles on the land. The system had a collection pond near Wolf Creek. The system was designed to reduce the acidity and metal content of drainage from the gob pile before discharging the treated water into Arbuckle Creek. When MMI purchased the land from New River, the water-treatment system was subject to a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. MMI and Law did not apply for an NPDES permit. MMI failed to operate the water-treatment system without incident. Acid-mine drainage discharged into either Wolf Creek or Arbuckle Creek on at least 16 occasions over roughly a four-year period. The United States (plaintiff) indicted Law and MMI for violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) by knowingly discharging polluted water into Wolf and Arbuckle Creeks without an NPDES permit. A jury found Law and MMI guilty, and Law was sentenced to two years in prison. Law and MMI each were fined $80,000. Law and MMI appealed their convictions to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, arguing that the court gave improper jury instructions about the affirmative defense that pollutants existed in the waters of the United States prior to reaching MMI’s facilities and that MMI merely diverted the flow of the waters.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

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