Harris County v. S.K. & Bros.
Harris County v. S.K. & Bros. (Court of Appeals – 14th District of Texas, Nov. 5. 2019): A Texas appellate court held that a local government could sue dry-cleaners for violating the Texas Water Code’s (TWC) prohibition on unauthorized discharge of industrial waste into water. Harris County and the State of Texas, acting by and through the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality (TCEQ), sued the dry-cleaner ownersand landlords alleging the business had unlawfully caused groundwater contamination with perchloroethylene. The trial court initially dismissed the suit, finding Harris County and TCEQ did not have standing to sue, but the appeals court reversed. It held that the TWC provision allowing localities to sue for civil penalties and injunctive relief was not preempted by the Texas Health and Safety Code since there was no irreconcilable conflict between the code and TWC. As a result, Harris County and TCEQ had standing to pursue a civil enforcement action. Read the decision here.
View all cases in the Judicial Trends in Public Health – December 13, 2019.