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Ninth Circuit Declines to Halt Los Angeles Subway Project Pending Court Review of NEPA Challenge

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied an emergency motion for injunction filed by plaintiff Beverly Hills Unified School District (BHUSD) seeking to halt activities related to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (Metro) Westside Subway Extension Project (Project). [Beverly Hills Unified School District v. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, et al., ___F.3d___, Case No 17-55077 (9th Cir. Jan. 25, 2017).]

The Ninth Circuit denied the emergency motion for injunction, without analysis, but with citation to Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 20 (2008) (Winter). In Winter, the U.S. Supreme Court stated the standard for injunctive relief, noting that the plaintiff seeking an injunction must show that he is likely to succeed on the merits, that he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of the injunction, that the balance of equities tips in his favor, and that an injunction is in the public interest.

This decision represents another hurdle overcome by Metro in a year’s long challenge to the Project. The challenges are likely to continue as FTA completes its supplemental NEPA review, and FTA and Metro move forward with Project activities. While the decision does not present a full analysis, the court’s citation to Winter is a reminder of the plaintiff’s burden when seeking an injunction.

(Kristen Castaños)