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Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbor Act is the kind of general ban which carries with it no implication of an intent to confer rights on a particular class of persons
Respondents, an environmental organization and two private citizens, sought to enjoin the construction and operation of water diversion facilities, which were part of the California Water Project (CWP), relying upon § 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Appropriations Act of 1899. The District Court concluded, among other things, that a "private cause of action" existed to enforce § 10. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit agreed. Certiorari was granted.
Did a private cause of action exist to enforce § 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Appropriations Act of 1899?
On certiorari, the United States Supreme Court reversed and remanded. The Court held that a private right of action cannot be implied on behalf of those allegedly injured by a claimed violation of § 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Appropriations Act of 1899, since the statute stated no more than a general proscription of certain activities, and did not unmistakably focus on any particular class of beneficiaries whose welfare Congress intended to further. Moreover, the legislative history of § 10 did not suggest that it was created for the benefit of a particular class, but rather to benefit the public at large through a general regulatory scheme.