Natural Resources Defense Coun. v. Tennessee Val. Auth., No. 614

CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
Writing for the CourtFRIENDLY, , TIMBERS, Circuit , and JAMESON
Citation459 F.2d 255
Docket NumberNo. 614,Docket 72-1119.
Decision Date27 March 1972
PartiesNATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL, INC., et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees, National Audubon Society, Inc., Intervenor-Appellee, v. TENNESSEE VALLEY AUTHORITY and Aubrey J. Wagner, Chairman, Tennessee Valley Authority, Defendants-Appellants.

459 F.2d 255 (1972)

NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL, INC., et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees,
National Audubon Society, Inc., Intervenor-Appellee,
v.
TENNESSEE VALLEY AUTHORITY and Aubrey J. Wagner, Chairman, Tennessee Valley Authority, Defendants-Appellants.

No. 614, Docket 72-1119.

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.

Argued March 10, 1971.

Decided March 27, 1972.


459 F.2d 256

Richard M. Hall, New York City (John H. Adams, New York City, of counsel), for appellees National Resources Defense Council, Inc., and Sierra Club.

William A. Butler, Washington, D.C., for appellee Environmental Defense Fund, Inc.

Gifford, Woody, Carter & Hays, New York City, for appellee National Audubon Society, Inc.

Thomas A. Pedersen, Knoxville, Tenn. (Robert H. Marquis, Gen. Counsel, Tennessee Valley Authority, Justin M. Schwamm, Knoxville, Tenn., Harry C. Batchelder, Jr., and Mudge Rose Guthrie & Alexander, New York City, of counsel), for appellants.

Before FRIENDLY, Chief Judge, TIMBERS, Circuit Judge, and JAMESON, District Judge.*

FRIENDLY, Chief Judge:

Plaintiffs in this action in the District Court for the Southern District of New York are three non-profit organizations concerned with the environment. Plaintiffs Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. and Environmental Defense Fund, Inc. are New York membership corporations, the former having its principal place of business in the Southern and the latter in the Eastern District of New York. Plaintiff Sierra Club is a California membership corporation having its principal place of business in that state. The defendants are Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), a federal corporation, and Mr. Wagner, its chairman.1

Section 8(a) of the Act creating the TVA provided that it "shall be held to be an inhabitant and resident of the northern judicial district of Alabama within the meaning of the laws of the United States relating to the venue of civil suits." 16 U.S.C. § 831g(a). Mr. Wagner's residence is in the Eastern District of Tennessee where TVA has its administrative headquarters. Service of process was made as provided in 28 U.S.C. § 1391(e), see fn. 2. Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief under various federal statutes and regulations against TVA's purchasing strip-mined coal under contract from Kentucky Oak Mining Company, a Kentucky corporation, and from two lessees of TVA owned property, W. B. Spradlin Coal Company, a sole proprietorship owned by a resident of Tennessee, and West Coal Corporation, a Tennessee corporation, none of which do business in the Southern District of New York. TVA likewise does not do so. The complaint also contained a claim attacking generally TVA's "practice and policy of purchasing and burning huge quantities of strip-mined coal." The merits of the complaint are not before us; our concern is limited to the question of venue.

It is common ground that venue could not have been laid in the Southern District of New York under the general federal question venue statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b), since this permits an action to be brought "only in the judicial district where all defendants reside, or in which the claim arose, except as otherwise provided by law." Plaintiffs' case for the propriety of venue rests on 28 U.S.C. § 1391(e), added to the Judicial

459 F.2d 257
Code by § 2 of Pub.L. No. 87-748, 76 Stat. 744, which we quote in the margin,2 and, more particularly, on clause (4) thereof

Defendants moved to dismiss for lack of proper venue on numerous, perhaps too numerous, grounds. They contended (1) that § 1391(e) was not intended to apply to an action against a locally based federal business corporation such as TVA but only to actions against federal officers or agencies which previously could have been brought only at the seat of the Federal Government, in the District Court for the District of Columbia; (2) that § 8(a) of the TVA Act fixing the Authority's residence in the Northern District of Alabama caused the action to fall within the clause in § 1391(e), "except as otherwise provided by law;" (3) that clause (4) of § 1391(e) required all plaintiffs to reside in the judicial district where suit was brought; (4) that "real property is involved in the action" and clause (4) of § 1391(e) was consequently inapplicable; and (5) that the three coal companies were indispensable parties and hence the action was not one "in which each defendant is an officer or an employee of the United States or any agency thereof . . . or an agency of the United States."3 The district court denied the motion but made the certificate required for an interlocutory appeal by 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b), 340 F.Supp. 400. We granted leave and expedited the hearing of the appeal. Since we sustain the first ground of defendants' motion, we have no occasion to consider the others.

On the district court's reading of § 1391(e), the suit could as well have been maintained in the Northern District of California if plaintiffs had chosen to bring it there. Also a suit for similar relief by an environmental organization incorporated in Hawaii or Alaska could be brought in those judicial districts. This is surely a strange consequence when the TVA operates in much the same way as an ordinary business corporation, under the control of its directors in Tennessee, and not under that of a cabinet officer or independent agency headquartered in Washington, and the conduct at issue affects only Kentucky and Tennessee. In holding that § 1391(e) permits a result apparently so...

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41 practice notes
  • Sierra Club v. Watt, No. Civ. S-83-035 LKK.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • April 24, 1985
    ...aff'd, 609 F.2d 553 (D.C.Cir.1980); Natural Resources Defense Council v. TVA, 340 F.Supp. 400, 407 (S.D.N.Y.1971), rev'd on other grounds, 459 F.2d 255 (2d The exact contours of the public interest exception have not been defined; nonetheless its central concerns are clear. Where what is at......
  • A.J. Taft Coal Co., Inc. v. Barnhart, No. CV 03-P-1390-S.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Alabama
    • November 14, 2003
    ...484 F.2d 1307 (2d Cir.1973); Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc. v. TVA, 340 F.Supp. 400, 405-06 (S.D.N.Y.1971), rev'd on other grounds, 459 F.2d 255 (2d Cir.1972); Environmental Defense Fund, Inc. v. Corps of Engineers, 325 F.Supp. 728, 731-32 (E.D.Ark. 1971), aff'd 470 F.2d 289 (8th Cir.1972)......
  • Driver v. Helms, No. 77-1482
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — First Circuit
    • May 25, 1978
    ...(1940), quoting Ozawa v. United States, 260 U.S. 178, 194, 43 S.Ct. 65, 67 L.Ed. 199 (1922); cf. Natural Resources Defense Counsel v. TVA, 459 F.2d 255, 257 (2d Cir. 1972) (eschewing the "tyranny of literalness"). 7 We do not, however, find any indication in the statute itself or in the leg......
  • Sierra Club v. Froehlke, Civ. A. No. 71-H-983.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Texas
    • February 16, 1973
    ...Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. v. Tennessee Valley Authority, 340 F.Supp. 400, 408-409 (S.D.N.Y.1971), rev'd on other grounds, 459 F.2d 255 (2nd Cir. 185 See, e. g., Arlington Coalition on Transportation v. Volpe, 458 F.2d 1323 (4th Cir. 1972), cert. denied, 409 U.S. 1000, 93 S.Ct.......
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41 cases
  • Sierra Club v. Watt, No. Civ. S-83-035 LKK.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • April 24, 1985
    ...aff'd, 609 F.2d 553 (D.C.Cir.1980); Natural Resources Defense Council v. TVA, 340 F.Supp. 400, 407 (S.D.N.Y.1971), rev'd on other grounds, 459 F.2d 255 (2d The exact contours of the public interest exception have not been defined; nonetheless its central concerns are clear. Where what is at......
  • A.J. Taft Coal Co., Inc. v. Barnhart, No. CV 03-P-1390-S.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Alabama
    • November 14, 2003
    ...484 F.2d 1307 (2d Cir.1973); Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc. v. TVA, 340 F.Supp. 400, 405-06 (S.D.N.Y.1971), rev'd on other grounds, 459 F.2d 255 (2d Cir.1972); Environmental Defense Fund, Inc. v. Corps of Engineers, 325 F.Supp. 728, 731-32 (E.D.Ark. 1971), aff'd 470 F.2d 289 (8th Cir.1972)......
  • Driver v. Helms, No. 77-1482
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — First Circuit
    • May 25, 1978
    ...(1940), quoting Ozawa v. United States, 260 U.S. 178, 194, 43 S.Ct. 65, 67 L.Ed. 199 (1922); cf. Natural Resources Defense Counsel v. TVA, 459 F.2d 255, 257 (2d Cir. 1972) (eschewing the "tyranny of literalness"). 7 We do not, however, find any indication in the statute itself or in the leg......
  • Sierra Club v. Froehlke, Civ. A. No. 71-H-983.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Texas
    • February 16, 1973
    ...Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. v. Tennessee Valley Authority, 340 F.Supp. 400, 408-409 (S.D.N.Y.1971), rev'd on other grounds, 459 F.2d 255 (2nd Cir. 185 See, e. g., Arlington Coalition on Transportation v. Volpe, 458 F.2d 1323 (4th Cir. 1972), cert. denied, 409 U.S. 1000, 93 S.Ct.......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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