Justia Environmental Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Arkansas Supreme Court
Walther v. Carrothers Constr. Co. of Ark.
The City of Russellville created the City Corporation to operate, maintain, and improve the city’s municipal waterworks system. The City Corporation managed a water treatment plant that provided potable drinking water to the residents of Russellville. In 1998, Carrothers Construction Company of Arkansas, LLC (Carrothers) constructed an expansion of the water-treatment plant. Carrothers purchased several items of machinery and equipment for the project. Carrothers installed this machinery and equipment for an extensive three-phase water treatment process at the Russellville plant. In 2004, the auditor for the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) conducted an audit of Carrothers’s records pertaining to its activities and purchases in 1999 and 2000 in performing its contractual obligations to expand the Russellville water treatment plant. The auditor determined that Carrothers purchased personal property from out-of-state vendors and that these purchases were subjected to Arkansas’s state and local use taxes, plus interest. Carrothers objected to the assessments, resulting in a lawsuit to challenge the tax assessments, and to demand refund of additional use taxes paid. Carrothers filed a motion for summary judgment asserting that there were no genuine issues of material fact and that, as a matter of law, it qualified for a manufacturing exemption. In 2015, the circuit court granted Carrothers’s motion for summary judgment and ruled that Carrothers was entitled to the manufacturing exemption. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded: "Carrothers acquired materials and constructed a facility to treat and clean the water, but it did not manufacture the water. Thus, Carrothers is not entitled to the manufacturing exemption," and therefore not entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law. View "Walther v. Carrothers Constr. Co. of Ark." on Justia Law
Mountain Pure, L.L.C. v. Little Rock Wastewater Util.
After a separation in the legal ownership of Mountain Pure and Gold Star Dairy, Mountain Pure was required to install a new representative sampling point and wastewater-flow-measurement system pursuant to a compliance order. Mountain Pure installed a new sampling point and sewer meter. Little Rock Wastewater (LRW) determined the sampling point and meter had been improperly installed and required corrective measures. LRW informed Mountain Pure that unless it was in compliance with the ordinances, legal action would be taken. A show-cause hearing was then held, in which the hearing officer found that Mountain Pure had violated its permit, compliance order and applicable ordinances. Mountain Pure appealed, and the circuit court affirmed the administrative decision. On appeal, the Supreme Court held that the administrative decision was not arbitrary and capricious and that it was supported by substantial evidence. Affirmed.
Hempstead Cnty. Hunting Club, Inc. v. Sw. Elec. Power Co.
Three questions of law were certified to the Supreme Court from the federal district court. The certified questions arose from a complaint from Petitioner Hempstead County Hunting Club, Inc. (Hempstead). Hempstead contended that Respondent Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) violated multiple public utilities statutes in the construction of its "Turk Plant." The first question from the federal court involved whether Hempstead was required to bring its claims before the state Public Service Commission (PSC) before suing in federal court. The Supreme Court concluded that under Arkansas law, Hempstead was first required to bring its claims before the Arkansas PSC. A court review of its claims should be precluded until Hempstead exhausted its administrative remedies. As a result, the Supreme Court did not address the remaining two certified questions.