350 Madison 350 Madison, March 30, 2016

The landowner lawsuit against Enbridge to enforce Dane County’s insurance requirement is entering a new chapter.

After we filed our complaint against Enbridge, the company responded by filing a motion to dismiss, a standard legal maneuver asserting that there is no legal basis for the lawsuit and therefore it should be dismissed without reaching the merits.

Enbridge filed a brief in support of the motion, to which we replied on March 24. The company has a chance to respond to our reply, and then the Judge, Richard Niess, will hear oral argument on April 11.

None of the arguments that Enbridge made raise any substantive issue that is of concern. The company’s main contention is that the budget rider their lobbyists snuck into the state budget last July not only prevents Dane County from enforcing the insurance requirement it imposed on Enbridge as a condition for approval of the company’s pump station in Medina, but also retroactively voids the requirement. However, the rider did not state or imply it was meant to be retroactive, and the rules of statutory construction clearly hold that new laws are not to be interpreted to be retroactive (with a few exceptions not relevant here). Moreover, the budget rider did not prevent affected landowners from suing—hence, the present action.

Our attorneys do not consider Enbridge’s motion to be a serious challenge before the trial court. Of course, if the case winds up in the highly politicized Wisconsin Supreme Court, all bets that rely on rational thought or the rule of law are off.

For those who love to dive into the weeds, you can find a copy of the original complaint here, Enbridge’s brief in support of their motion here, and our brief in opposition here.

Everyone who can make it is urged to come to the hearing to show our continuing support for our pro bono attorneys, Tom Burney and PK Hammel, without whose dedication we would not have been able to prosecute this case. If they can donate their time working hundreds of hours without pay, the least we can do is be there to support them. Here are the details:

What: Hearing on Campbell v. Enbridge, Case 16-CV-000350
When: Monday, April 11, 1:30pm–2:30pm (but come early to get a seat!)
Where: Dane County Courthouse, 5th Floor, Courtroom 5D–Branch 9, 217 S. Hamilton St., Madison
RSVP: Facebook event page

Wear your 350 Madison or Sierra Club T-shirt. See you there!

 

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