The Everglades Litigation Collection contains pleadings, hearing and deposition transcripts, exhibits and document productions from over fifty lawsuits. The major portion of its contents were gathered from two large-scale civil actions:
The original federal lawsuit
Together, they "constitute the southernmost and northernmost remnants of the historic Everglades," 2
The United States alleged that ENP and LNWR were losing native plant and animal habitat communities due to increased nutrient loading from agricultural runoff. Moreover, according to pleadings filed by the United States, for more than a decade, Florida regulators had ignored evidence of worsening conditions in the Park and Refuge, thereby avoiding confrontation with powerful agricultural interests. 3
United States v. South Florida Water Management District, 847 F. Supp. 1567 (S.D. Fla. 1992), aff'd in part and rev'd in part, remanded, 28 F.3d 1563 (11th Cir. 1994), cert. denied, 115 S.Ct. 1956 (1995), was an historic effort on the part of the federal government to protect the ecological integrity of the Park and Refuge from the nutrient-polluted water which, the United States alleged in its moving papers, would eventually destroy them if not controlled.
The lawsuit, which became known as the Everglades Case, received national news coverage. The law library's Everglades Litigation Collection contains over 1,400 pleadings filed with the federal district court, transcripts from depositions of 65 expert witnesses and from over 20 court hearings, and hundreds of thousands of pages from documents produced during the course of discovery in this case alone.
The Settlement Agreement in the Federal Action
In 1991, after two and one-half years of litigation, the United States and the State of Florida reached a settlement agreement that recognized the severe harm the ENP and LNWR had suffered and would continue to suffer if remedial steps were not taken. The 1991 Settlement Agreement, entered as Consent Decree by Judge Hoeveler in 1992, 847 F. Supp. 1567 (S.D. Fla. 1992) sets out in detail the steps the State of Florida would take over the next ten years to restore and preserve water quality in the Everglades:
In order to secure federal court approval, the Settlement Agreement preserved the rights under state law of the agricultural interests to participate in and challenge the final development and implementation of the settlement's remedial program through the state administrative process. See also, Florida Sugar Cane League v. Department of Environmental Regulation, 617 So.2d 1065 (Fla. 4th DCA 1993).
Thus, nonsignatories had the opportunity to pursue state
administrative remedies under Fla. Stat. Ch. 120 if their substantial interests were
affected by implementation of the Settlement Agreement's remedial program, i.e., the final
SWIM (Surface Water Improvement Management) Plan by the SFWMD and DEP.
agricultural interests filed challenges to the final SWIM Plan in 1992 in addition to
filing several in state and federal fora.
State Administrative Proceedings
The Settlement Agreement was founded on the recently passed Marjory Stoneman Douglas Everglades Protection Act (Douglas Act), Ch. 91-80, Laws of Florida, developed with the involvement and consent of sugar interests. While sugar interests participated in the passage of the Douglas Act, nearly all agricultural interests (including the sugar interests) filed challenges to the final SWIM Plan in 1992 in addition to filing several lawsuits in state and federal fora. These challenges were extensive and varied, leading eventually to what many felt was litigation gridlock.
Three "SWIM challenges," DOAH Case Nos. 92-3038, 92-3039, and 92-3040, were consolidated by the Division of Administrative Hearings.
The Everglades Litigation Collection contains close to 1,000 SWIM challenge pleadings filed with the court, the transcripts from the depositions of 166 experts and from 32 hearings, 144 mb of data and thousands of pages of documents produced during discovery proceedings in this action. Pleadings are also available from related Rule and Permit challenges as well as EPA administrative proceedings regarding NEPA.
The Everglades Forever Act
Settlement negotiations were held between
several of the parties. In 1993, a statement
of principles was made public.
In August 1994, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the 1992 Consent Decree and remanded the case to district court for further consideration in light of the Everglades Forever Act (28 F.3d 1563 (11th Cir. 1994), cert denied 115 S.C. 1956)).
Several hearings were held in United States v. South Florida Water Management District, No. 88-1886 (S.D. Fla.), attempting to reconcile the old Settlement Agreement with the new state law. Litigation continues, however. The Miccosukee Tribe of Indians filed several lawsuits against the federal and state governments.
The Final Conceptual Plan for Achieving Long-term Water Quality Goals - March 17, 2003 draft being considered by the South Florida Water Management District and proposed legislation (PCB NR 03-01 A) in the Florida House of Representatives may amend significant portions of the Everglades Forever Act and may lead to failure in meeting key provisions of the federal Settlement Agreement.
Go to Restoration page
Everglades Nutrient Removal Project
Everglades Litigation Repository
of Miami School of Law Library
Everglades Litigation Collection
1311 Miller Drive
Coral Gables, Florida 33146
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