N. A. A. C. P. v. Medical Center, Inc., No. 77-2369

CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
Writing for the CourtBefore ROSENN, HUNTER and HIGGINBOTHAM; ROSENN; A. LEON HIGGINBOTHAM
Citation584 F.2d 619
Decision Date18 August 1978
Docket NumberNo. 77-2369
Parties8 Envtl. L. Rep. 20,699 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR the ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE, Puerto Rican Civil Rights League, Inc., Older Americans Coalition, Wilmington United Neighborhoods, Brandywine Trinity United Methodist Church, on behalf of their members and others similarly situated, and Sarah Bratcher, Raymond W. Brown, Maria Galindez, for herself and as parent and guardian for his minor children Reynaldo Galindez, and Pedro Galindez, Milagro Quinones, Maria Miran, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, Appellants, v. The MEDICAL CENTER, INC., David Mathews, U. S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, Amos Burke, Director of the Bureau of Comprehensive Health Planning and William C. Gordon, Director of the Health Planning Council, Inc.

Page 619

584 F.2d 619
8 Envtl. L. Rep. 20,699
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR the ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE,
Puerto Rican Civil Rights League, Inc., Older Americans
Coalition, Wilmington United Neighborhoods, Brandywine
Trinity United Methodist Church, on behalf of their members
and others similarly situated, and Sarah Bratcher, Raymond
W. Brown, Maria Galindez, for herself and as parent and
guardian for his minor children Reynaldo Galindez, and Pedro
Galindez, Milagro Quinones, Maria Miran, on behalf of
themselves and others similarly situated, Appellants,
v.
The MEDICAL CENTER, INC., David Mathews, U. S. Secretary of
Health, Education, and Welfare, Amos Burke, Director of the
Bureau of Comprehensive Health Planning and William C.
Gordon, Director of the Health Planning Council, Inc.
No. 77-2369.
United States Court of Appeals,
Third Circuit.
Argued June 8, 1978.
Decided Aug. 18, 1978.

Page 622

Marilyn G. Rose, Christine B. Hickman, Center for Law and Social Policy, Washington, D. C., Louise Lander, New York City, Douglas A. Shachtman, Community Legal Aid, Wilmington, Del., Charles H. Toliver, IV, Alan Bernard Scher, Asst. City Sols., Wilmington, Del., for appellants.

Barbara Allen Babcock, Asst. Atty. Gen., William Kanter, Barbara B. O'Malley, Attys., Dept. of Justice, Civ. Div., Litigation Section, Washington, D. C., for appellee.

Rebecca L. Ross, Atty., Dept. of Justice, Civ. Div., Litigation Section, Washington, D. C., for appellee and Amos Burke.

William M. Reinhart, U. S. Dept. of H.E.W., Washington, D. C., Edward F. Kafader, Wilmington, Del., for Amos Burke.

Rodney M. Layton, Richards, Layton & Finger, Wilmington, Del., for The Wilmington Medical Center.

Robert E. Kopp, Steven I. Frank, Washington, D. C., for Secretary, H.E.W.

Patrick A. Parenteau, National Wildlife Federation, Washington, D. C., for amicus curiae.

Before ROSENN, HUNTER and HIGGINBOTHAM, Circuit Judges.

OPINION OF THE COURT

ROSENN, Circuit Judge.

In response to the penetrating impact of man's activity on all elements of the natural environment, Congress declared it to be the continuing policy of the United States "to create and maintain conditions under which man and nature can exist in productive harmony." National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 ("NEPA" or "the Act") § 101(a), 42 U.S.C. § 4331(a) (1970). To implement this policy, Congress adopted the broad substantive and procedural requirements of NEPA and directed "to the fullest extent possible" that the laws and regulations of the federal government be administered consistent with environmental considerations. NEPA § 102, 42 U.S.C. § 4332 (1970).

Adoption of NEPA was intended to provide "a legislative mandate and a responsibility (for Federal officers) to consider the consequences of their actions on the environment." 1 Consequently, the Act

Page 623

requires all agencies of the Government to make a detailed statement on the environmental impact ("environmental impact statement" or "EIS") of every recommendation or report concerning Proposed legislation made by the agency. NEPA § 102(2) (C), 42 U.S.C. § 4332(2)(C) (1970). NEPA also requires those agencies to file impact statements in other situations as well. In recognition, however, of "the conflict between protection of the environment and advancement of other important national goals," 2 the Act does not apply to all agency action; rather, its application is limited only to those "Major Federal actions" which significantly affect the quality of the human environment. NEPA § 102(2) (C), 42 U.S.C. § 4332(2)(C) (1970) (emphasis supplied).

In this case we must determine whether the action of the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare ("H.E.W." or "Secretary") in approving a capital expenditure by the Wilmington Medical Center ("WMC" or "Center"), a private non-profit hospital, constitutes "major Federal" action for purposes of NEPA and so requires H.E.W. to file an EIS. The district court concluded that the approval constituted minimal federal involvement with what is essentially private action. It therefore held that H.E.W. had no obligation to file an EIS. We agree and affirm.

I. FACTS

WMC is the primary provider of hospital care to the citizens of New Castle County, Delaware. It presently operates three hospitals within the city of Wilmington the General Division, the Memorial Division, and the Delaware Division which have a capacity of 994 beds. 3 However, after several years of extensive planning, the Center now proposes to consolidate its operations to provide more efficient and broader health care delivery for the entire county. It therefore has adopted a plan, designated Plan Omega, which calls for an extensive restructuring of hospital services and the relocation of much of the Center's facilities. Plan Omega is an $88 million capital expenditure project the main elements of which are as follows: (1) the complete renovation of the Delaware Division, leaving it with a capacity of 250 beds, (2) the closing of the Memorial and General Divisions, and (3) the opening of a new $60 million, 800 bed tertiary care hospital in suburban Stanton, some eight miles from Wilmington. The ultimate effect of the plan would be to expand the total hospital care capacity of the county, improve health care delivery, and to reduce substantially the in-patient facilities of the city of Wilmington. The program would result in the transfer of most special pediatric, obstetric, tertiary care, and sophisticated services from Wilmington to Stanton.

In the spring of 1976, pursuant to section 1122 of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1320a-1 (Supp. V 1975) ("section 1122"), WMC sought capital expenditure approval of Plan Omega by the Secretary of H.E.W. 4 Following proper procedure under

Page 624

that section, WMC made an application to the Delaware Bureau of Comprehensive Health Planning and to a local health planning group for review of the relocation plan. Both organizations undertook studies to determine Delaware's need, as defined by its health care policy and standards set by the federal government, for expansion of WMC's facilities and expenditure of funds by it. The state and local agencies certified the WMC plan as necessary and the Secretary issued a section 1122 approval of Plan Omega in August of 1976. As a consequence of this approval, WMC was assured that the Secretary would not withhold payment of the capital component of WMC's charges to patients under medicare, medicaid, and child health programs on the ground that the component charge was the product of an unnecessary capital expenditure. 5

Once it received section 1122 approval, WMC moved forward with Plan Omega; 6 it prepared to obtain financing for the project. With construction and the potential withdrawal of substantial health care services from Wilmington imminent, plaintiffs organizations and individuals representing the poor, the elderly, the handicapped, and several racial and ethnic minorities of Wilmington filed a lawsuit on September 10, 1976, approximately one month before WMC planned to issue construction bonds for the facility. 7 Plaintiffs contended that the construction of a large modern suburban hospital and the resultant reduction in services provided by the urban hospitals, would lead to the creation of a dual hospital system: the Stanton facility serving the white affluent suburban population, and the Wilmington facilities serving the class represented by the plaintiffs. Plaintiffs asserted that such a system would lead to the eventual deterioration of the quality of health care provided in Wilmington. Furthermore, they alleged that the removal of critical services to the suburban hospital would make the services virtually inaccessible to many of the residents of Wilmington.

Plaintiffs charged that implementation of Plan Omega would violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d (1970) and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794 (1976). They asserted that the Secretary should have given specific consideration to those provisions prior to approving the plan under section 1122. Plaintiffs also charged that the relocation plan was in violation of NEPA, in that the Secretary issued an approval of the capital expenditure without first filing an environmental impact statement as required for all "major Federal actions significantly affecting the quality of the human environment." NEPA § 102(2)(C), 42 U.S.C. § 4332(2)(C) (1970). Plaintiffs therefore asked that Plan Omega be enjoined.

In response to these contentions, the district court directed H.E.W. "to determine

Page 625

whether Plan Omega violate(d) Title VI or § 504 (of the Rehabilitation Act)." N. A. A. C. P. v. Wilmington Medical Center, Inc., 426 F.Supp. 919, 925 (D.Del.1977). It then directed the Secretary "to reconsider his position" that NEPA was inapplicable to the section 1122 approval of Plan Omega. Id. at 926.

After receipt of this mandate, H.E.W. wrote the court and explained that it would treat plaintiffs' Title VI and Rehabilitation Act complaints as though they had been filed administratively. In so doing, the Secretary concluded that Plan Omega, as originally presented, would have violated the civil rights protections afforded under Title VI and the Rehabilitation Act. H.E.W. then undertook extensive negotiations with WMC and after several months, the agency and the Center signed an agreement pertaining to Plan Omega, encompassing civil rights assurances recommended by H.E.W. 8 In accordance with the district court's mandate, H.E.W. also filed a supplemental report with the court, reconsidering the Secretary's prior decision not to file an impact statement for the section 1122 approval. Although the agency determined that Plan Omega would have a significant impact on the quality of the human environment, 9 it concluded nonetheless that it was not required to file an EIS because its approval was not a...

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  • Stand Up for California! v. United States Dep't of Interior, 2:16-cv-02681-AWI-EPG
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • August 5, 2021
    ...Transp., 202 F.3d 788, 803 (5th Cir. 2000); Sugarloaf Citizens Ass'n v. FERC, 959 F.2d 508, 513 (4th Cir. 1992); NAACP v. Med. Ctr., Inc., 584 F.2d 619, 633-34 (3d Cir. 1978). Although this case law and the revised NEPA regulations elevate agency discretion to a lofty position for determini......
  • Water Works & Sewer Bd. v. U.S. Dept. of Army, No. CV 95-PT-2956-S.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Alabama
    • October 22, 1997
    ...over an entire project based upon its ability to issue a permit as to a portion of the project. The court in NAACP v. Medical Center, 584 F.2d 619 (1978), identified three factors helpful in determining whether "but for" or factual control requires projectwide analysis: (1) the degree of di......
  • State of N.J., Dept. of Environmental Protection and Energy v. Long Island Power Authority, No. 93-5613
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • July 19, 1994
    ...of federal resources and authority committed to it, and whether it "significantly" affects the environment. NAACP v. Medical Ctr., Inc., 584 F.2d 619, 627 (3d Cir.1978). We recognize that the Council on Environmental Quality has interpreted Sec. 4332(2)(C) as setting forth a unitary standar......
  • Westinghouse Elec. Corp. v. U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Com'n, Nos. 78-1188
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • April 19, 1979
    ...action had only an insignificant impact on the environment and that accordingly an EIS is unnecessary. See NAACP v. Medical Center, Inc., 584 F.2d 619, 635 n.19 (3d Cir. 1978); Shiffler v. Schlesinger, supra, 548 F.2d at 104-05 84 See 42 U.S.C. § 4332 (1976). ...
  • Request a trial to view additional results
48 cases
  • Stand Up for California! v. United States Dep't of Interior, 2:16-cv-02681-AWI-EPG
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • August 5, 2021
    ...Transp., 202 F.3d 788, 803 (5th Cir. 2000); Sugarloaf Citizens Ass'n v. FERC, 959 F.2d 508, 513 (4th Cir. 1992); NAACP v. Med. Ctr., Inc., 584 F.2d 619, 633-34 (3d Cir. 1978). Although this case law and the revised NEPA regulations elevate agency discretion to a lofty position for determini......
  • Water Works & Sewer Bd. v. U.S. Dept. of Army, No. CV 95-PT-2956-S.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Alabama
    • October 22, 1997
    ...over an entire project based upon its ability to issue a permit as to a portion of the project. The court in NAACP v. Medical Center, 584 F.2d 619 (1978), identified three factors helpful in determining whether "but for" or factual control requires projectwide analysis: (1) the degree of di......
  • State of N.J., Dept. of Environmental Protection and Energy v. Long Island Power Authority, No. 93-5613
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • July 19, 1994
    ...of federal resources and authority committed to it, and whether it "significantly" affects the environment. NAACP v. Medical Ctr., Inc., 584 F.2d 619, 627 (3d Cir.1978). We recognize that the Council on Environmental Quality has interpreted Sec. 4332(2)(C) as setting forth a unitary standar......
  • Westinghouse Elec. Corp. v. U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Com'n, Nos. 78-1188
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • April 19, 1979
    ...action had only an insignificant impact on the environment and that accordingly an EIS is unnecessary. See NAACP v. Medical Center, Inc., 584 F.2d 619, 635 n.19 (3d Cir. 1978); Shiffler v. Schlesinger, supra, 548 F.2d at 104-05 84 See 42 U.S.C. § 4332 (1976). ...
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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