Risky Business: 3 Circuits Affirm CWA Simple Negligence

Law360, New York (June 15, 2012, 12:25 PM EDT) -- The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has joined the Ninth and Tenth Circuits in holding that simple negligence is the standard of liability for misdemeanor violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA). This lower standard of simple negligence could amount to no more than a plant manager’s switch of the wrong valve.

Such a switch, if it causes a discharge of pollutants from a point source into waters of the United States, is subject to criminal prosecution — a fine of up to...
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