Suit Seeking Damages for Improperly Designed Waterway Dismissed for Lack of Federal Jurisdiction.

The plaintiff was a farming company that purchased 300 acres from an owner who had contracted with a private company to build grass waterways. The former owner received a federal subsidy from the Natural Resources Conservation Service for building the waterways. He did not, however, pay the contractor for building the waterways because he contended that there was a lip or ridge along the edge of the grass waterways that prevented proper draining. The contractor sued the former owner in state court, and the former owner filed counterclaims. The state court entered summary judgment against the former owner and denied the farming company’s motion to intervene (the farming company had by that time purchased the property). The farming company then filed its action in federal court alleging that the grass waterways were improperly designed and built and that they did not conform to federal law. All defendants moved to dismiss the suit on a variety of grounds, including lack of federal subject-matter jurisdiction. The district court concluded that the suit sounded in state tort law with no federal subject-matter jurisdiction and granted the motions dismissing the case. On appeal, the Sixth Circuit agreed, finding that the farming company could point to no statute providing an express or implied right of action for its suit. Stew Farm, Ltd. v. Natural Res. Conservation Serv., No. 13-4111, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 16274 (6th Cir. Ohio August 25, 2014).