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Constitutional Law

Exam 1
30 minutes

Fact Pattern

The U.S. Congress enacted the Save Our Rivers Act (the Act) to restore and maintain the quality and purity of the nation’s waters, and to eliminate the excessive discharge of pollutants into the nation’s navigable waters, including rivers and creeks. Under the Act, no one may discharge pollutants into navigable waters, absent a permit from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Act has a citizen-suit provision, which authorizes private citizens to bring lawsuits to enforce the Act’s other provisions.

Company A owns a factory located near a creek. That factory has been discharging certain pollutants into the creek, pursuant to a permit issued by the EPA. Another entity, Company B, has a plant located near the same creek. This plant also discharges pollutants into the creek, pursuant to another EPA permit. There are no other entities discharging pollutants into the creek. 

A plaintiff, a private citizen, sues Company A in federal district court, pursuant to the Act’s citizen-suit provision, for violating the terms of the EPA permit. The complaint alleges that Company A has been discharging more pollutants into the creek than the EPA permit allows. On that basis, the plaintiff seeks an injunction from the court prohibiting Company A from exceeding the discharge limits indicated in the permit.

Along with the complaint, the plaintiff files an affidavit stating the following:

  1. I reside approximately 1,000 miles from the creek. 
  2. I take annual trips to swim in and camp along the creek, and I plan to return to the creek six months from now.
  3. During my upcoming trip, I will refrain from drinking water from the creek, because the pollutants in the creek might harm my health. To satisfy my water needs during the trip, I purchased 50 bottles of water.

Company A files a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, on the grounds that the plaintiff lacks standing to sue under Article III of the U.S. Constitution.


Questions

  1. How should the district court decide the motion? Explain, discussing only the basic elements of standing under Article III, but do not consider prudential standing.

Question 1

How should the district court decide the motion? Explain, discussing only the basic elements of standing under Article III, but do not consider prudential standing.

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