RS 30:920     

§920.  Citizen suits

A.  After the state has assumed exclusive jurisdiction of surface coal mining operations as provided in Section 503 of Public Law 95-87,* and as long as the state retains such jurisdiction, then, except as provided in subsection B of this Section, and subject to the provisions of subsection G of this Section, any person having an interest which is or may be adversely affected may commence a civil action in a court of the state on his own behalf to compel compliance with this Chapter--

(1)  Against the state or a state instrumentality or agency which is alleged to be in violation of the provisions of this Chapter or of any rule, regulation, order or permit issued pursuant to this Chapter, or against any other person who is alleged to be in violation of any rule, regulation, order or permit issued pursuant to this Chapter, or

(2)  Against the commissioner where there is alleged a failure of the commissioner to perform any act or duty under this Chapter which is not discretionary with the commissioner.

B.  No action may be commenced

(1)  Under subsection A(1) of this Section

(a)  Prior to sixty days after the plaintiff has given notice in writing of the violation (i) to the commissioner and (ii) to any alleged violator; or

(b)  If the commissioner has commenced and is diligently prosecuting a civil action in a court of the state to require compliance with the provisions of this Chapter; but in any such action any such person shall have the right to intervene, or

(2)  Under subsection A(2) of this Section prior to sixty days after the plaintiff has given notice in writing of such action to the commissioner in such manner as the commissioner shall by regulation prescribe, except that such action may be brought immediately after such notification in the case where the violation or order complained of constitutes an imminent threat to the health or safety of the plaintiff or would immediately affect a legal interest of the plaintiff.

C.(1)  Any action respecting a violation of this Chapter or the regulations thereunder may be brought only in the judicial district in which the surface coal mining operation complained of is located.

(2)  In such action under this Section, the commissioner, if not a party, may intervene as a matter of right.

D.  The court, in issuing any final order in any action brought pursuant to Subsection A of this Section, may award costs of litigation, including attorney and expert witness fees, to any party whenever the court determines such award is appropriate.  The court may, if a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction is sought, require the filing of a bond or equivalent security in accordance with the Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure.

E.  Nothing in this Section shall restrict any right which any person, or class of persons, may have under any statute or law to seek enforcement of any of the provisions of this Chapter and the regulations thereunder, or to seek any other relief, including relief against the commissioner.

F.  Any person who is injured in his person or property through the violation by any operator of any rule, regulation, order, or permit issued pursuant to this Chapter may bring an action for damages, including reasonable attorney and expert witness fees, only in the judicial district in which the surface coal mining operation complained of is located.  Nothing in this Subsection shall affect the rights established by or limits imposed under the State's Worker's Compensation laws.**

G.  This Section shall not be given effect (1) if the Secretary of the Interior does not require the inclusion of similar provisions in state laws as a condition for approval by the Secretary of the Interior of state programs of regulation of surface coal mining and reclamation operations pursuant to Section 503 of Public Law 95-87* or (2) if any such requirement of the Secretary of the Interior is declared invalid by final decree of a court of competent jurisdiction: Provided, that if similar provisions are required by the Secretary of the Interior to be included in state laws, the Secretary of Natural Resources and the Commissioner may commence and prosecute an action in the appropriate Federal court to have the regulation requiring inclusion declared invalid.

Added by Acts 1978, No. 406, §1.  Amended by Acts 1979, No. 553, §3; Acts 1983, 1st Ex.Sess., No. 1, §6.

*30 U.S.C.A. §1253

 **R.S. 23:1021 et seq.