Practice Area: Environmental / Natural Resources
Outcome: MPCA's Order rescinded. Recovered attorneys fees.
Description: Represented Al Schumann, developer from Eyota, Minnesota, in an action in Olmsted County District Court seeking review of Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (â€œMPCAâ€) administrative penalty order. The MPCA alleged that Schumann violated stormwater regulations when he constructed a 19 acre residential development. The MPCA sought a $4,500 penalty and required Schumann to take corrective action, constructing a stormwater pond at a cost of up to $100,000. In a summary judgment motion we argued that the MPCA had no basis to issue the order because there was no discharge to the â€œwaters of the state.â€ Olmsted County District Court Judge Lawrence Collins granted summary judgment to our client. Judge Collins granted an award of attorney fees of $111,500 to Mr. Schumann noting that the State did not have a factual or legal basis for its claims. The fee award was the most ever awarded under the Minnesota Equal Access to Justice Act (MEAJA). MEAJA is designed to protect small businesses and their owners from state agencies that file cases without merit. Minnesota Law & Politics designated the case as â€œLawsuit of the Year.â€