United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
Nathaniel M. Gorton, United States District Judge
Clean Water Action, a nationwide, non-profit, public benefit
corporation that works to protect the nation's water
resources (“CWA” or “plaintiff”),
claims that defendant Searles Auto Recycling Corp.
(“Searles” or “defendant”) has
violated the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. § 1251 et seq.,
by failing to comply with the requirements of its Stormwater
Permit. In its counterclaim, defendant asserts that
plaintiff's filing of this suit is an abuse of process
intended for ulterior motives extraneous to the proceeding.
Plaintiff's motion to dismiss the counterclaim is now
pending before the Court. For the reasons that follow,
plaintiff's motion to dismiss will be allowed.
operates an automobile salvage yard on Easthampton Road in
Northampton, Massachusetts (“the Facility”). When
rainwater or snowmelt accumulate on the Facility, the
subsequent stormwater runoff is contaminated with pollutants
because the Facility conducts several of its industrial
operations outside. The polluted stormwater flows from the
Facility into catch basins located on Easthampton Road, and
eventually into Mill River through connected pathways of
wetlands and waterways.
2016, CWA sent Searles a “60-day Notice of Violations
and Intent to File Suit Regarding NonCompliance with Federal
Clean Water Act Industrial Stormwater Discharge
Requirements” (“the notice”). After
receiving the notice, Searles retained professionals, who
investigated the Facility and prepared a Notice of Intent for
Storm Water Discharges Associated with Industrial Activity.
In July, 2016, the United States Environmental Protection
Agency issued Searles a Multi-Sector General Permit ID: MAR
053878 (“Stormwater Permit” or
“Permit”) pursuant to the Clean Water Act's
National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. Among other
things, the Permit requires in §§ 2.1 and 2.5 that
Searles “minimize effluent discharges” by
implementing adequate “control measures”.
August, 2016, Searles notified CWA that the EPA had issued to
it a Stormwater Permit to demonstrate its compliance with the
Clean Water Act. In October, 2016, CWA filed a complaint
alleging that Searles was in violation of that very Act.
Shortly thereafter, Searles filed a motion to dismiss for
lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(1) contending that Searles was in compliance of the
Clean Water Act when CWA filed suit and still is. The motion
was denied by this Court on August 7, 2017.
filed its answer and counterclaim on August 28, 2017. Shortly
thereafter, plaintiff filed a motion to dismiss
defendant's counterclaim for failure to state a claim
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). That motion is the subject
of this memorandum.
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint (or counterclaim)
must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to
“state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 570 (2007). In considering the merits of a motion to
dismiss, the Court may look only to the facts alleged in the
pleadings, documents attached as exhibits or incorporated by
reference in the complaint and matters of which judicial
notice can be taken. Nollet v. Justices of Trial Court of
Mass., 83 F.Supp.2d 204, 208 (D. Mass. 2000), aff'd,
248 F.3d 1127 (1st Cir. 2000). Furthermore, the Court must
accept all factual allegations in the complaint (or
counterclaim) as true and draw all reasonable inferences in
the non-movant's favor. Langadinos v. Am. Airlines,
Inc., 199 F.3d 68, 69 (1st Cir. 2000). Although a court
must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained
in a complaint, that doctrine is not applicable to legal
conclusions. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009).
moves to dismiss Searles' counterclaim pursuant to Rule
12(b)(6) on the grounds that (1) the Court has already
rejected Searles' contention that CWA knowingly pursued a
groundless claim and (2) Searles failed to allege sufficient
factual matter to state the ulterior motive element in its
claim for abuse of process.
Court's Ruling on CWA's Allegations
first contends that the Court previously concluded that
CWA's allegations were made in good faith, plausible and
supported by sufficient factual matter when it denied
Searles' motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction. CWA ...