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Maudlin v. Federal Emergency Management Agency

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Evansville Division

September 30, 2015

NATHAN B. MAUDLIN, JEANNE G. MAUDLIN, and FLANDERS-SCOTT, LLC, Plaintiffs,
v.
FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY, Defendant

          For NATHAN B. MAUDLIN, JEANNE G. MAUDLIN, FLANDERS-SCOTT, LLC, Plaintiffs: Nathan B. Maudlin, KLEZMER & ASSOCIATES, New Harmony, IN.

         For FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY, FEMA, Defendant: Shelese M. Woods, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Indianapolis, IN.

          OPINION

         ENTRY ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

         RICHARD L. YOUNG, Chief United States District Judge.

         Plaintiffs, Nathan B. and Jeanne G. Maudlin and Flanders-Scott, LLC, brought suit against the Federal Emergency Management Agency (" FEMA" ), seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against FEMA's implementation of its new flood insurance rate map (" FIRM" ) affecting New Harmony, Indiana. Plaintiffs argue that FEMA failed to follow certain statutory requirements set forth in the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (" NHPA" ), amended and codified as 54 U.S.C. § 300101 et. seq., rendering the FIRM unlawful. FEMA moves to dismiss Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), or, in the alternative, for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6). For reasons set forth below, FEMA's Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED.

         I. Background

         New Harmony sits on the Lower Wabash River in Southwestern Indiana. In 1965, the Department of the Interior designated New Harmony as a National Historic Landmark District. In 1966, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. (Filing No. 8 (" Am. Compl." ) ¶ 9). New Harmony received its designation " under themes of social and humanitarian movement, with areas of significance including architecture, social history, and science." ( Id. ).

         In 2011, FEMA began the process of updating its flood elevation determinations for New Harmony. A flood elevation determination is FEMA's determination of water level elevations for the base flood, that is, " the flood level that has a one percent or greater chance of occurrence in any given year." 44 C.F.R. § 59.1. FEMA then depicts these determinations and any special flood hazard areas (" SFHA" )[1] in a FIRM. FEMA published its proposed determinations in the Federal Register on May 16, 2013, and in the Posey County News on June 12 and 19, 2013. (Filing No. 11-1 at 1). FEMA received no administrative appeals challenging its proposed determinations and, thus, the FIRM was set to take effect on November 5, 2014. ( Id. ).

         Plaintiffs allege, and the court accepts as true, that FEMA's new floodplain determinations designate more than sixty percent of real estate in New Harmony as " Zone A" [2] property. This determination implicates the mandatory flood insurance requirements for property owners and lessees under the National Flood Insurance Act (" NFIA" ), 42 U.S.C. § 4001 et seq. (Am. Compl. ¶ 12). This designation, according to Plaintiffs, will cause property values to decline anywhere from forty to sixty percent and will depress local tax revenue and investment and, ultimately, the local economy. ( Id. ).

         Plaintiffs challenge FEMA's new FIRM for New Harmony on two principal grounds. First, Plaintiffs claim FEMA failed to " use the most reliable, accurate data reasonably available" in revising the FIRM for New Harmony. Second, Plaintiffs argue the revised FIRM is " contrary to law" because FEMA failed to observe mandatory procedures set forth in the NHPA and enforced by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (" ACHP" ). Plaintiffs, therefore, ask the court to (1) find that FEMA did not " use the most reliable, accurate data" when revising the FIRM for New Harmony; (2) find that FEMA did not engage in the NHPA's Section 106 review process, thus rendering the revised FIRM contrary to law; and (3) enjoin FEMA from implementing the FIRM.

         II. Discussion

         A. Standards

         A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) tests the sufficiency of the complaint, not the merits of the case. Ctr. for Dermatology & Skin Cancer, Ltd. v. Burwell, 770 F.3d 586, 588 (7th Cir. 2014). Rule 12(b)(1) requires dismissal of claims over which the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. The court accepts as true all well-pleaded factual allegations and draws all reasonable inferences in plaintiff's favor, " but a plaintiff faced with a 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss bears the burden of establishing that the jurisdictional requirements have been met." Id. at 588-89 (citations omitted).

         To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) challenge, the complaint must contain sufficient factual allegations to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. The court accepts all facts in the complaint as true and views them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Bonte v. U.S. Bank, N.A., 624 F.3d 461, 463 (7th Cir. 2010).

         B. ...


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