Not what you're
looking for? Try an advanced search.
Buy This Entire Record For
BATH PETROLEUM STORAGE, INC. v. SOVAS
March 21, 2001
BATH PETROLEUM STORAGE, INC. AND E.I.L. PETROLEUM, INC., PLAINTIFFS,
GREGORY H. SOVAS, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS DIRECTOR OF THE DIVISION OF MINERAL RESOURCES, NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION; BRADLEY J. FIELD, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS ACTING DIRECTOR OF THE BUREAU OF OIL AND GAS REGULATION, DIVISION OF MINERAL RESOURCES, NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION; THOMAS W. PEARSON, INDIVIDUALLY, AND AS REGIONAL WATER ENGINEER, REGION 8, DIVISION OF WATER, NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION; JOHN CAHILL, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS COMMISSIONER OF THE NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION; NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION; AND THE STATE OF NEW YORK, DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kahn, District Judge.
MEMORANDUM — DECISION AND ORDER
Presently before the Court is Plaintiffs' motion for
reconsideration. For the following reasons, Plaintiffs' motion
Plaintiffs own and operate a liquid petroleum gas ("LPG")
storage facility in Bath, New York. As discussed in this Court's
prior decisions, Plaintiffs received permission from defendant
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
("NYDEC") to expand this facility in 1992. Four years later,
Plaintiffs entered into a contract with CNG Transmissions
Corporation ("CNG"). Under the terms of this contract CNG, was
going to utilize Plaintiffs' facilities to store natural gas.
In 1998, after Plaintiffs' deal with CNG collapsed, they
commenced the instant suit asserting five federal causes of
action and two pendent state law causes of action against
Defendants. Counts one and two sought declaratory relief from
this Court on the ground that the State's imposition of various
construction modification requirements on Plaintiffs was
preempted by 42 U.S.C. § 300(h)(b)(2) and 15 U.S.C. § 717, et
seq. Plaintiffs' third claim sought injunctive relief against
defendants Sovas and Field on the ground that they violated
Plaintiffs' due process rights while their fourth and fifth
claims sought damages from defendants Sovas, Field, and Pearson
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Plaintiffs' pendent state law claims alleged that Defendants
violated New York State's Administrative Procedure Act
("NYSAPA") when they compelled Plaintiffs' to comply with their
directives without, in part, first creating a regulatory impact
statement. Plaintiffs' second pendent state law claim alleged
that Defendants violated their state due process rights codified
under Article 1, § 6 of the New York State Constitution. This
Court dismissed all of Plaintiffs' claims on January 10, 2000 on
the grounds that CNG's withdrawal from the natural gas project
made the entire case unripe for judicial review. Plaintiffs'
current motion seeks reconsideration of that decision.
A. Standard for Reconsideration
Motions for reconsideration proceed in the Northern District
of New York under Local Rule 7.1(g), unless otherwise governed
by Fed.R.Civ.P. 60. The "clearly erroneous" standard of review
applies to motions for reconsideration. The moving party must
"point to controlling decisions or data that the court
overlooked — matters, in other words, that might reasonably be
expected to alter the conclusion reached by the court." Shrader
v. CSX Transp., Inc., 70 F.3d 255, 257 (2d Cir. 1995).
Generally, the prevailing rule in the Northern District
"recognizes only three possible grounds upon which motions for
reconsideration may be granted; they are (1) an intervening
change in controlling law, (2) the availability of new evidence
not previously available, or (3) the need to correct a clear
error of law or prevent manifest injustice." In re C-TC 9th
Ave. P'ship, 182 B.R. 1, 3 (N.D.N.Y. 1995). Defendants' basis
for this motion is that this Court made a clear error of law or
needs to correct a manifest injustice because of significant
errors contained in the Court's earlier decision. Although this
Court enjoys broad discretion when making a determination to
reconsider on this ground, Von Ritter v. Heald, 876 F. Supp. 18,
19 (N.D.N.Y. 1995), it will not disregard the law of the
prior case unless "the Court has a `clear conviction of error'
with respect to a point of law on which its previous decision
was predicated." Fogel v. Chestnutt, 668 F.2d 100, 109 (2d
B. Ripeness of Plaintiffs' Claims
Before a Court may make a declaratory judgment, however, a
case must present an "actual controversy." See
28 U.S.C. § 2201(a); Fusco v. Rome Cable Corp., 859 F. Supp. 624, 629
(N.D.N.Y. 1994). The actual controversy requirement is the same
as the "case and controversy" requirement of article III, § 2 of
the United States Constitution. See Gilbert Segall and Young v.
Bank of Montreal, 785 F. Supp. 453, 458 (S.D.N.Y. 1992).
Although the precise contours of the term "actual controversy"
are difficult to discern, when "the facts alleged, under all the
circumstances, show that there is a substantial controversy,
between parties having adverse legal interests, of sufficient
immediacy and reality," a declaratory judgment may issue. Olin
Corp. v. Consol. Aluminum Corp., 5 F.3d 10, 17 (2d Cir. 1993)
(quoting Maryland Cas. Co. v. Pacific Coal & Oil Co.,
312 U.S. 270, 273, 61 S.Ct. 510, 85 L.Ed. 826 (1941)). In this Circuit,
"a court must entertain a declaratory judgment action if it
would be useful in clarifying and settling legal relations in
the case, or if it would terminate the uncertainty, insecurity,
and controversy that brought about the proceeding." Albradco,
Inc. v. Bevona, 982 F.2d 82, 87 (2d Cir. 1992) (emphasis
Defendants argue, and this Court initially concluded, that
because CNG backed out of its contractual obligations with
Plaintiffs, any harm to them regarding Defendants' sonar testing
and SPDES requirements was speculative. See Bath Petroleum
Storage, Inc. v. Sovas, 78 F. Supp.2d 67, 69 (N.D.N.Y. 2000). In
essence, the Court concluded that Plaintiffs had no intent to
complete its conversion project after CNG backed out and that,
until a replacement for CNG was found, Plaintiffs could not
claim that they were ...