Judge tells environmental groups to try again in suit against St. Pete
A federal judge in Tampa tossed a lawsuit filed last week by three environmental groups against St. Petersburg for its massive sewage discharges, saying the legal claims advanced by their complaint "a shotgun pleading."
U.S. District Judge James D. Whittemore gave the groups 14 days to file an amended complaint or the case will be dismissed.
The three groups, Suncoast Waterkeeper, Inc,, Our Children's Earth Foundation and the Ecological Rights Foundation, filed their suit in the Middle District of Florida, contending that the city had violated the federal Clean Water Act for its intentional dumping as well as spills from an overburdened, aging sewer system.
Two months of negotiating with the city had been fruitful, both sides said, but the environmentalists decided that a consent order governed by the federal courts would be the best way to compel the city to solve its sewage mess, which has resulted in about 200 million gallons being discharged since August 2015.
Justin Bloom, an attorney and executive director of Suncoast Waterkeeper, said the lawsuit was written to be efficient, but the groups respect the judges' order and plan to refile an amended complaint Wednesday.