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Friends of Tims Ford v. Tennessee Valley Authority

March 20, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Mattice


In the instant case Plaintiff brings three causes of action pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA"), 5 U.S.C. §§ 701-706, for alleged violations of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 ("NEPA"), 42 U.S.C. § 4321 et seq., and the Tennessee Valley Authority Act of 1933 ("TVA Act"), §§ 4 and 26a, 16 U.S.C. §§ 831c and 831y-1. Plaintiff also asserts state-law causes of action.

The Court has raised the issue of Plaintiff's standing to bring the instant action, and has received briefs from the parties.*fn1 On January 14, 2008, the Court ordered Plaintiff to show cause why it should not dismiss the instant case for lack of standing (Court Doc. 57, Order of January 14, 2008.) Plaintiff has responded by submitting affidavits of two of its members (see Court Doc. 61-1, Aff. of Robert E. Taylor; Court Doc. 61-2, Aff. of Steven G. Hammond). For the reasons set forth below, the Court will DISMISS WITHOUT PREJUDICE Plaintiff's federal causes of action for lack of standing and will DECLINE to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff's and Counterplaintiffs' state-law causes of action.


Plaintiff, an unincorporated association, asserts causes of action against Defendants Tennessee Valley Authority ("TVA"), a federal corporation, and the Tennessee Department of Environmental Conservation ("TDEC"), a state agency. Additionally, Intervening Defendants assert a state-law counterclaim against Plaintiff.


United States Magistrate Judge William B. Mitchell Carter has recited the facts relevant to this Order in his Memorandum and Order of July 7, 2007 (Court Doc. 33). To the extent that the facts contained in Magistrate Judge Carter's Memorandum and Order are not disputed by Plaintiff (see Court Doc. 34, Pla.'s Objection to Magistrate Judge's Memorandum and Proposed [sic] Order), the Court incorporates by reference Magistrate Judge Carter's recitation of facts.


Before addressing the elements of standing, the Court must distinguish Plaintiff's federal claims from its state-law claims. For its federal claims, Plaintiff alleges violations of the NEPA and §§ 4 and 26a of the TVA Act. Neither act provides a private right of action. Sierra Club v. Slater, 120 F.3d 623, 630 (6th Cir. 1997); Matthews v. Town of Greeneville, No. 90-5772, 1991 WL 71414, at *1 (6th Cir. May 2, 1991). Both acts, however, can be judicially reviewed under the APA, which provides a right of action to any person aggrieved by the acts or omissions of a federal agency. See 5 U.S.C. §§ 702, 706. The APA, however, is not applicable to state agencies. Sw. Williamson County Cmty. Ass'n, Inc. v. Slater, 173 F.3d 1033, 1035 (6th Cir. 1999) ("By its own terms, the APA does not apply to state agencies."); see also Sw. Williamson County Cmty. Ass'n, Inc. v. Slater, 243 F.3d 270, 275 (6th Cir. 2001) (holding that a plaintiff may not sue the Tennessee Department of Transportation under the APA). Accordingly, for the purpose of determining Plaintiff's standing, the Court interprets Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (Court Doc. 39-2) as asserting federal claims only against Defendant TVA. Conversely, then, Defendant TDEC faces only state-law claims. The Court will begin its standing analysis by turning its attention to Plaintiff's federal claims under the APA against Defendant TVA.

"To establish standing to sue under the Administrative Procedure Act, a plaintiff must satisfy constitutional prerequisites derived from the 'case or controversy' requirement of Article III of the Constitution and must demonstrate the inapplicability of 'prudential' limitations imposed by the APA. The two sets of requirements overlap substantially." Ctr. For Biological Diversity v. Lueckel, 417 F.3d 532, 536 (6th Cir. 2005) (internal citations omitted). As explained below, the Court need only look to the Article III requirements in the instant case.

To enjoy standing pursuant to Article III, Plaintiff must have a "personal stake" in the outcome of the litigation. Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186, 204 (1962). A plaintiff bears the burden of establishing standing. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 561 (1992). "Since [the elements required to establish standing] are not mere pleading requirements but rather an indispensable part of the plaintiff's case, each element must be supported in the same way as any other matter on which the plaintiff bears the burden of proof, i.e., with the manner and degree of evidence required at the successive stages of the litigation . . . ." Id. As the Court invited the parties to submit briefs and evidence on the issue of standing, the most applicable standard at this juncture is that of summary judgment. See id. Thus, Plaintiff "can no longer rest on [general factual allegations of injury resulting from Defendants' conduct] but must 'set forth' by affidavit or other evidence 'specific facts,' . . . which for purposes of [determining standing] will be taken to be true." Id. In evaluating whether the named Plaintiff has borne its burden, the Court must determine whether standing existed at the time the Complaint was filed. Cleveland Branch, N.A.A.C.P. v. City of Parma, 263 F.3d 513, 524, 526 (6th Cir. 2001).

"[T]he core component of standing is an essential and unchanging part of the case-or-controversy requirement of Article III" of the Constitution. Lujan, 504 U.S. at 560. Plaintiff argues that it has fulfilled this requirement through the doctrine of associational standing. An association has standing to sue based on injury to one of its members if, inter alia, the member has standing to sue in his own right. Hunt v. Wash. State Apple Adver. Comm., 432 U.S. 333, 343 (1977). Thus, Plaintiff must show that at least one of its members has demonstrated the following:

First, he must demonstrate injury in fact-a harm that is both concrete and actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical. Second, he must establish causation-a fairly traceable connection between the alleged injury in fact and the alleged conduct of the defendant. And third, he must demonstrate redressability-a substantial likelihood that the requested relief will remedy the alleged injury in fact. These requirements together constitute the irreducible constitutional minimum of standing, which is an essential and unchanging part of Article ...

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