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Public Justice

A Year of Remarkable Voices & Victories

2015 was a banner year for Public Justice’s work to create real change in the lives of real people and communities throughout the country. The cases we took on – and the cases we won – will have positive, far-reaching consequences for years, and even decades, to come.

Justice for Rafael: An Update

When I met Maria Escamilla at her home in Laredo, Texas last year, one of the first things she said to me was, “I’ve been waiting so long.” In 2009, her son had died while in police custody at the Webb County Jail in Texas. More than 6 years later, no one had been held accountable. But on April 12, the Fifth Circuit ruled that charges against the jailers responsible for caring for Mr. Solis could move forward. At long last, those responsible for Rafael’s death can finally be held accountable.

A New Legal Frontier in the Fight Against Fracking

This morning, ‘Newsweek’ noted that our lawsuit taking on oil and gas fracking in Oklahoma is “the first U.S. lawsuit ever filed to prevent earthquakes.” We’ve added a fourth company – SandRidge – to the list of those we’re taking to court in order to stop the destruction fracking is causing in America’s heartland.

Tyson Foods Loses Bid to Reverse Worker Class Action in U.S. Supreme Court

And now for some rare but good news on the class action front from the U.S. Supreme Court:

For months now, Supreme Court watchers have been waiting with bated breath to see whether food industry giant Tyson Foods, Inc. would succeed in its bid to reverse a $5.8 million judgment in favor of Iowa meat processing employees who were not paid for their time “donning and doffing” protective equipment.

Well guess what? Tyson Foods lost.

Buried in the Fine Print: A Special Investigative Report on Arbitration

Earlier this month, Al Jazeera America aired ‘Buried in the Fine Print,’ a special investigative report on the dangers of arbitration. The program, which also features our executive director, showcases just a few example of arbitration’s impact on consumers, workers and others. We’re excited to…

  • Public Justice Files Suit to Clean Up Coal Ash Contamination at Utah Plant

    Public Justice has filed suit, on behalf of HEAL Utah and the Sierra Club, to ensure the cleanup of millions of tons of toxic coal ash waste at a central Utah power plant following decades of mismanagement. The suit comes after an October letter asking PacifiCorp to address a litany of problems that have contaminated land and water at the Huntington coal-burning power plant.

    According to the complaint, PacifiCorp’s mismanagement in handling, transport and disposal of the coal-ash waste “have caused extensive contamination of local ground and/or surface waters, which may present an imminent and substantial endangerment to health and the environment.”

    Perhaps most egregious, the suit alleges that one of the plant’s tactics for skirting its responsibilities under the Clean Water Act was the creation of a “fake farm” adjacent to the plant where alfalfa and other crops were irrigated as a means to disposing of the plant’s wastewater.

  • Don’t Trust the Chamber of Commerce When it Tells You That Arbitration is Good for Consumers

    The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, one of the country’s largest corporate lobbying organizations, wants American consumers to believe that it has their best interests at heart. This is a myth.

    In a recent blog post, the Chamber argues against a proposed rule being considered by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The rule would prohibit contracts for consumer financial products from combining arbitration clauses that prevent consumers from going to court with terms that ban consumers from bringing or being a part of a class action. The Chamber argues that when consumers have been cheated by banks or debt collectors, it’s in the consumers’ best interest to bring those companies to individual arbitration, rather than banding together in a class action. This position, however, is completely disingenuous.