District of Columbia v. Tri County Industries, Inc.

PETITIONER: District of Columbia
RESPONDENT: Tri County Industries, Inc.
LOCATION: Attorney General's Office of MA

DOCKET NO.: 99-1953
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1986-2005)
LOWER COURT:

CITATION: 531 US 287 (2001)
ARGUED: Jan 10, 2001
DECIDED: Jan 17, 2001

ADVOCATES:
Charles S. Reischel - on behalf of the Petitioner
Frank J. Emig - on behalf of the Respondent

Facts of the case

Using a 1993 building permit issued by the District of Columbia, Tri County Industries, Inc. spent nearly $600,000 readying a site for a "soil remediation" facility, which would decontaminate soil tainted by hazardous wastes. After protests and a dispute over whether the company was violating its permit by storing contaminated soil on the site, the city issued a stop-work order. Tri County filed suit against the District of Columbia for suspending its building permit on the facility claiming its due process rights had been violated. Ultimately, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia reinstated a 1998 jury's $5 million award. The appellate court rule that the District Court should have conducted a "more searching inquiry" than it had to preserve the Seventh Amendment right to jury trials in civil cases. The appellate court normally applies a "abuse of discretion" standard. Under the "more searching inquiry," the appellate court discounted the reasons the district judge had cited in ordering a new trial.

Question

Must federal appellate courts conduct a "more searching inquiry" than "abuse of discretion" when reviewing a federal trial court's decision to grant a new trial?

Media for District of Columbia v. Tri County Industries, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 10, 2001 in District of Columbia v. Tri County Industries, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - January 17, 2001 in District of Columbia v. Tri County Industries, Inc.

In No. 99-1953, District of Columbia versus Tri County Industries argued orally last week, the petition for certiorari is dismissed as improvidently granted.