178 F.3d 515 (8th Cir. 1999), 98-1216, St. Croix Waterway Ass'n v. Meyer

Docket Nº:98-1216
Citation:178 F.3d 515
Opinion Judge:McMILLIAN, Circuit Judge.
Party Name:St. Croix Waterway Association, an unincorporated association, Appellant, v. George E. Meyer, in his official capacity as Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Rodney Sando, in his official capacity as Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Appellees
Attorney:Counsel who presented argument on behalf of the appellant was Jeffrey A. Eyres, of Minneapolis, MN. Charles K. Dayton also appeared on appellant's brief. Counsel who presented argument on behalf of the appellee was David Peter Iverson for appellee Sando and James C. McKay for appellee Meyer. Jame...
Judge Panel:Before McMILLIAN, LAY and MURPHY, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:March 12, 1999
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
 
FREE EXCERPT

Page 515

178 F.3d 515 (8th Cir. 1999)

St. Croix Waterway Association, an unincorporated association, Appellant,

v.

George E. Meyer, in his official capacity as Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Rodney Sando, in his official capacity as Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Appellees

No. 98-1216

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

March 12, 1999

         Submitted: October 20, 1998.

Page 516

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota. CIV 97-166. Honorable Ann D. Montgomery.

         Counsel who presented argument on behalf of the appellant was Jeffrey A. Eyres, of Minneapolis, MN. Charles K. Dayton also appeared on appellant's brief.

         Counsel who presented argument on behalf of the appellee was David Peter Iverson for appellee Sando and James C. McKay for appellee Meyer. James E. Doyle, Attorney General for the State of Wisconsin, also appeared on the brief.

         Before McMILLIAN, LAY and MURPHY, Circuit Judges.

          OPINION

Page 517

          McMILLIAN, Circuit Judge.

         St. Croix Waterway Association (the Association) appeals from a final order entered in the United States District Court 1 for the District of Minnesota dismissing with prejudice its complaint seeking a declaratory judgment that " slow-no wake" motorboat speed limit regulations applicable to the Lower St. Croix River are unconstitutionally vague on their face and violate the public trust doctrine. St. Croix Waterway Ass'n v. Meyer, Civil No. 97-166 (D. Minn. Dec. 22, 1997) (memorandum opinion and order). For reversal, the Association argues that the district court erred in ignoring certain facts it alleged in support of its claim and in holding that the slow-no wake regulations are not unconstitutionally vague on their face and do not violate the public trust doctrine. For the reasons discussed below, we affirm the order of the district court.

          JURISDICTION

         Jurisdiction in the district court was based on 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Jurisdiction in this court is based on 28 U.S.C. § 1291. The notice of appeal was timely filed pursuant to Fed. R. App. P. 4(a).

         BACKGROUND

         The Association is an unincorporated association of individuals who regularly operate motorboats on the Lower St. Croix River in zones where slow-no wake regulations are enforced. Appellees George B. Meyer and Rodney W. Sando are the Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, respectively. Appellees were sued in their official capacities; they are responsible for enforcement of the challenged regulations.

         The Lower St. Croix River forms part of the boundary between Minnesota and Wisconsin. The states jointly manage this portion of the river. Minnesota and Wisconsin have adopted identical regulations requiring that motorboats travel no faster than the slow-no wake speed on certain areas of the river. See Minn. R. 6105.0320, subpt. 4; Wis. Admin. Code § NR 5.32(3). These regulations provide that " 'slow-no wake' means operation of a motorboat at

Page 518

the slowest possible speed necessary to maintain steerage." These regulations were adopted in 1979 and were expanded in 1995 to additional areas of the Lower St. Croix River for environmental and safety reasons. According to the Association, Minnesota and Wisconsin have joint jurisdiction over the Lower St. Croix River, and law enforcement officers of each state enforce their respective state's slow-no wake regulations from shore to shore on the Lower St. Croix River.

         This action began in January 1996 when the Association filed a complaint against appellees seeking a declaratory judgment that the slow-no wake regulations were unconstitutionally vague on their face. Appellees filed motions to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The magistrate judge held that the court had subject matter jurisdiction and personal jurisdiction and that the regulations were not unconstitutionally vague and dismissed the complaint with prejudice. See St. Croix Waterway Ass'n v. Meyer, 942 F.Supp. 435, 444 (D. Minn. 1996) (St. Croix I). 2 The Association filed a motion to " modify or reconsider," which the magistrate judge considered as a Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e) motion to alter or amend judgment. The magistrate judge modified the order and dismissed the complaint without prejudice. Id. Slip op. at 5 (Dec. 23, 1996) (order).

         The present case began in January 1997 when the Association filed an amended complaint, reasserting its claim that the slow-no wake regulations are unconstitutionally vague on their face in violation of the due process clauses of the Constitutions of the United States, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The Association made essentially the same allegations that it had made in its initial complaint. The Association alleged that the regulations failed to provide adequate notice of what conduct is prohibited or sufficient standards to prevent arbitrary and discriminatory law enforcement. The Association also alleged that Minnesota and Wisconsin law enforcement officers enforced the regulations in a selective, arbitrary or discriminatory manner against its members, individuals who operated certain types of motorboats and individuals who operated motorboats registered in other states. The Association also alleged that the regulations violated the public trust doctrine. Appellees filed Rule 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss.

         The district court held that the slow-no wake regulations were not unconstitutionally vague on their face. The district court found that the regulations provided adequate notice of what conduct is prohibited because the regulations did not use overly technical terms to describe the prohibited conduct, the language used is clear and unambiguous, and the regulations are specific enough to be comprehensible to people of ordinary intelligence. See slip op. at 6-7. The district court compared the phrase " the slowest...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP