ENVIRONMENTAL CITIZEN SUITS
Since the early 1980s, AltmanNewman has achieved groundbreaking and impactful environmental victories against a variety of public and private polluters causing pollution of air, streams, rivers, lakes, groundwater, drinking water and land, by historic dumping and hundreds of other pollution-causing practices. These cases, often brought as citizen suits, allow our clients to sue private polluters and to even sue government agencies that refuse to enforce or implement environmental statutes and regulations. Using these legal tools (there is one citizen suit provision in each federal environmental law and some under state law), everyday citizens can stop pollution and obtain investigations and cleanups of contaminated land and water. When citizens win at least some of the relief they desire, they usually recover legal fees and litigation costs from the polluter. Citizen suits have become especially important as federal and state agencies have shifted their priorities away from enforcing the environmental laws and protecting those affected by pollution.
Frustrated by Pollutants You Can’t Control?
A farmer discovers his drinking water wells have been contaminated by an illegal hazardous waste dump nearby.
Neighbors must cope with the environmental and health legacy of a chemical explosion in their community.
A small business owner in a rural community is forced to cancel business expansion plans because his well water has been contaminated by chemical wastes from a nearby factory.
A homeowner’s basement repeatedly backs up with sewage after heavy rains.
A homeowner who raises horses regularly experiences sickening odors and visible pollution fallout all over her property from a nearby Coke plant
Our firm’s success under these provisions goes back decades, when we secured a first-time ruling that private citizens adversely affected by pollution could obtain relief under CERCLA [Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act] and under the Imminent Hazard provision of RCRA [the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act].
Just to illustrate how powerful these citizen suit provisions can be, we have used them to:
(1) stop illegal discharges of deicing fluids into area streams and creeks — the injunction led many other airports to curtail the same type of pollution;
(2) obtain a court-ordered cleanup of an old industrial property near a large residential community in a city;
(3) secure, on behalf of a local city, an end to air violations and a cleanup of ground water contamination caused by a company; and
(4) warn a metropolitan area about the threat of industrial toxics in its sewer system. See our representative Cases for additional illustrations that may match your concerns.