Ohio v. Wyandotte Chemicals Corporation

PETITIONER: Ohio
RESPONDENT: Wyandotte Chemicals Corporation
LOCATION: Edward Coolidge's Home

DOCKET NO.: 41 ORIG
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1970-1971)
LOWER COURT:

CITATION: 401 US 493 (1971)
ARGUED: Jan 18, 1971
DECIDED: Mar 23, 1971

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Ohio v. Wyandotte Chemicals Corporation

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 18, 1971 in Ohio v. Wyandotte Chemicals Corporation

Warren E. Burger:

We’ll hear arguments next in number 41 Original Jurisdiction, the State of Ohio against Wyandotte Chemicals.

Mr. Brown, you may proceed whenever you’re ready.

Paul W. Brown:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

We have here a case which involves mercury pollution in the Great Lakes, an immense problem which has become more max as we have factually realized that the mercury pollution is extremely damaging to health and life of our citizens.

Now, we address this action to the original jurisdiction to this Court under Article III, Section 2, cl. 2 of the Constitution and we think that the Court has in an exceedingly clear way outlined the cases in which such an action is proper.

We think the Georgia versus the Tennessee Copper Company is extremely in point and the New Jersey versus New York is extremely in point and that each of these cases provide in a similar factual situation that this Court will hear a complaint so addressed by a state against the citizens of another state and against the residence of a foreign country.

In each instance, the factual -- the facts are identical in that.

Acts were committed the situs of which was outside of the complaining state but which created a nuisance within the state and this Court intervened for the purpose of enjoining.

Byron R. White:

What law do you think the Court applied in the Tennessee case?

Paul W. Brown:

In the Tennessee case, I think it applied the common law of the --

Byron R. White:

What common federal law or --

Paul W. Brown:

The common -- no, the common law of the State of Georgia.

Byron R. White:

But there was some discussion of that matter would be about -- what --

Paul W. Brown:

It seems to me that here we must.

Byron R. White:

(Voice Overlap) what’s the applicable law?

Paul W. Brown:

It seems to here it hasn’t occurred to me that we could apply in this case anything except the common law of the State of Ohio where the nuisance occurred.

Byron R. White:

So you are claiming under a federal statute?

Paul W. Brown:

No, we are not claiming under a federal statute.

We are claiming under the federal constitution the right to file.

We have no federal question here.

Byron R. White:

Well, you aren’t stating a federal cause of action?

Paul W. Brown:

We are not stating a federal cause of action, we are filing this under the common law of the State of Ohio and addressing our complaint as was done in these other two cases --

Byron R. White:

Did the complaint say that the defendants have violated the federal statute?

Paul W. Brown:

No sir, it does not.

If it does it wasn’t intended that it should.

Byron R. White:

So, you're strictly seeking a --

Paul W. Brown:

A common law --

Byron R. White:

A federal forum to have adjudicated a cause of action under Ohio law?

Paul W. Brown:

Right and our right to do so, arises from the Constitution and from these two cases and only from that.

Byron R. White:

Do you think we’re obligated to apply Ohio law?