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Save Our Environment

Inc., 365 U.S. 127, (1961) and United Mine Workers v.
Pennington, 381 U.S. 657, (1965).
The doctrine was extended to cover tort claims against
certain political activity. NAACP v. Clairbome Hardware
Co., 458 U.S. 886, (1982) (First Amendment protected
against a civil conspiracy claim by merchants whose
businesses were being boycotted.) The doctrine also
protects against conspiracy liability for damages resulting
from requesting governmental action to decertify a
nursing home. Brownsville Golden Age Nursing Home,
Inc. v. Wells, 839 F.2d 155 (3d Cir.1988).
Judge Sommer noted that the only exception to the
Noerr-Pennington Doctrine immunity rule is the "sham"
exception. The sham exception holds that immunity
does not apply in situations where a defendant's activities
are not genuinely directed at obtaining favorable
government actions. This appears to be a very narrow
exception, since Noerr held that immunity exists
regardless of the defendant's motivation, because the
right of persons to petition the government "cannot
properly made to depend on their intent in doing so."
Noerr, 365 U.S. at 139. Accordingly, in order to qualify
for the sham exception, the plaintiffs would have to
prove that DRN actions were not designed to obtain
favorable government action. Since DRN's objective, at
least in part, was to stop the proposed development (and

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it does not matter what DRN's motivations might be),
it would seem given these circumstances that proof of
the sham exception in this matter would be almost an
insurmountable evidentiary barrier to surmount.
Judge Sommer did not feel the need to discuss another
immunity ground in order to reach his decision. DRN
could also claim immunity under the Pennsylvania
Participation in Environmental Law or Regulation
Act ("PELR"), 27 Pa. S. C. ยง 8301, et seq.
Section 8302(a) provides:
Except as provided in subsection (b), a person
that, pursuant to Federal or State law, files an action
in the courts of this Commonwealth to enforce an
environmental law or regulation or that makes an oral or
written communication to a government agency relating
to enforcement or implementation of an environmental
law or regulation shall be immune from civil liability in
any resulting legal proceeding for damages where the
action or communication is aimed at procuring favorable
governmental action.
Like the Noerr-Pennington Doctrine, PELR has
exceptions. In fact, PELR has three exceptions,
as follows:
Continued on page 22
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