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Town of Portsmouth, Rhode Island v. Lewis

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

February 10, 2016

TOWN OF PORTSMOUTH, RHODE ISLAND, Plaintiff, Appellant,
v.
MICHAEL P. LEWIS in his official capacity as Director of the Rhode Island Department of Transportation, RHODE ISLAND DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, DANIEL J. BERMAN in his official capacity as Division Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration, VICTOR MENDEZ in his official capacity as Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration, FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION, BUDDY CROFT in his official capacity as Executive Director of the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority, and RHODE ISLAND TURNPIKE AND BRIDGE AUTHORITY, Defendants, Appellees

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF RHODE ISLAND. Hon. Ronald R. Lagueux, U.S. District Judge.

Kevin P. Gavin, with whom Law Office of Kevin P. Gavin, Terence J. Tierney, and Law Office of Terence J. Tierney were on brief, for appellant.

Jeffrey H. Gladstone, with whom Robert K. Taylor and Partridge Snow & Hahn LLP were on brief, for appellees Michael P. Lewis and Rhode Island Department of Transportation.

Richard B. Myrus, Assistant U.S. Attorney, and Peter F. Neronha, United States Attorney, on brief for appellees Daniel J. Berman, Victor Menendez, and Federal Highway Administration.

William E. O'Gara, Brian J. Lamoreux, Rebecca M. Murphy, and Pannone Lopes Devereaux & West LLC on brief for appellees Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority and Buddy Croft.

Before Howard, Chief Judge, Selya and Thompson, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

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HOWARD, Chief Judge.

The Town of Portsmouth, Rhode Island challenges a district court order dismissing its claims against federal and state transportation agencies and officers for collecting tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge in violation of the anti-tolling provision of the Federal-Aid Highway Act (FAHA), 23 U.S.C. § 301, and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. § § 4321-4347. After the Town filed this suit in federal court, the Rhode Island legislature repealed the tolls. Consequently, the district court denied on mootness grounds the Town's requests for injunction, declaratory judgment, and monetary relief, and dismissed the Town's complaint. We agree with the district court that this legislative repeal rendered moot the Town's claims for injunctive and declaratory relief. We also conclude that the Town did not sufficiently allege or preserve a restitution claim. Even were we to excuse this insufficiency, however, the restitution claim would still fail because the Town lacks a right of action. Accordingly, we affirm the district court's dismissal of the complaint.

I. Background

Since 1956, the Sakonnet River Bridge has spanned the Sakonnet River, connecting

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the communities of Portsmouth and Tiverton, Rhode Island. In 1999, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (the state DOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (the FHWA) considered options for restoring or replacing the aging bridge. In light of opposition to bridge tolls by the public and Rhode Island's governor, the state DOT did not include tolls as a means of financing the bridge in its Final Environmental Impact Statement, and the FHWA affirmatively stated in its Record of Decision that tolls were not being considered.

Eventually, federal funds were approved, and a new toll-free bridge opened in September 2012. Later that year, however, the Rhode Island General Assembly enacted legislation allowing the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority (the Authority) to impose tolls on the bridge. The following year, the state DOT issued a reevaluation of its earlier Environmental Impact Statement ...


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