Lawsuits Against DuPont And Chemours For Contaminating Drinking Water In North Carolina

Illustration: The Intercept

By Sharon Lerner for The Intercept – AFTER YEARS of litigation over PFOA, an industrial toxin used to make Teflon and other non-stick and stain-resistant products, in 2009 DuPont introduced GenX. Now the slippery substitute has followed the path of the molecule it replaced, contaminating water near plants in West Virginia and North Carolina, and attracting its own intense legal interest. The lawsuits over PFOA exposed the chemical’s links to several diseases, including kidney and testicular cancer. Like PFOA, also known as C8, GenX is a perfluorinated compound and similarly, was the subject of internal DuPont research showing it poses many of the same health concerns as the original chemical. Also like PFOA, GenX persists indefinitely in the environment. In the past two weeks, two citizens groups in North Carolina announced plans to sue Chemours, the DuPont spinoff company that now makes GenX, over its release of the chemical from its plant in Fayetteville, North Carolina. The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority issued a letter of intent to sue both Chemours and DuPont last week over violations of the Clean Water Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act over release of GenX into the Cape Fear River, which is a source of drinking water for more than 250,000 people in the Wilmington area.

Journalists Sue Chicago Police Over Hidden Records Of SWAT Responses To Mental Health Crises

From loevy.com

By Andy Thayer for Loevy and Loevy – CHICAGO – Independent journalist Sarah Lazare and community activist Debbie Southorn sued the Chicago Police Department today demanding release of records about Chicago SWAT deployments responding to mental health crises. A copy of the suit can be found here. These records are of particular public importance because all of Chicago’s mental health clinics have been closed or privatized in recent years, and SWAT teams are used to respond to mental health incidents. As Lazare and Southorn note in an article published yesterday at The Intercept, “Since 2013, Chicago police have deployed SWAT teams at least 38 times to respond to mental health incidents and suicide attempts,” as revealed by records produced in response to a previous FOIA request. * Laquan McDonald, killed by police officer Jason Van Dyke in October 2014. McDonald had been “diagnosed with complex mental health problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder” noted the Chicago Tribune, and had been hospitalized in psychiatric hospitals three times by the time he was 13.

Tennessee Cops Sued For Three Hour Torture Of Suspect

The taser shocks by deputies were recorded by an overhead surveillance video camera and by a camera on the taser itself. (Photo: Surveillance footage photo)

By Amy K Nixon for The Tennessean – Three Cheatham County Sheriff’s deputies have been placed on administrative leave after a Pegram teen filed suit in federal court accusing them of using excessive force while he was being held at Cheatham County Jail. Jordan Elias Norris, 19, has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court accusing the deputies of deprivation of civil rights, citing the use of excessive force and failure to protect after he was repeatedly stunned with Tasers in the jail in November 2016. He suffered more than 40 pairs of Taser burns, many of which are unaccounted for by authorities, the lawsuit states. Norris was arrested Nov. 3, 2016 and charged with felony manufacturing/possession of marijuana for resale, possession of drug paraphernalia, theft under $500 and five counts of possession of a prohibited weapon. He was later charged with felony vandalism of over $1,000 and simple assault Nov. 7 while still incarcerated. Norris was originally suspected of stealing a semi-automatic rifle, and Sheriff’s deputies received information he was going to use the weapon on any law enforcement who tried to arrest him, according to Cheatham County Sheriff Mike Breedlove.

Landowners Along Pipeline Route Sue FERC And Mountain Valley Pipeline

The Roanoke Times

By Duncan Adams for The Roanoke Times – Participants in the lawsuit hope it will protect their private property from what they describe as “a government-sanctioned land grab” for the financial gain of a private pipeline company. A Roanoke-based lawyer representing 17 plaintiffs who own 10 properties along the current route of the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline contend that the federal agency tasked with reviewing interstate pipelines should not be able to grant the power of eminent domain to a private company for its pursuit of “private pecuniary gain.” A lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court in Roanoke challenges the authority of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to “sub-delegate” the power of eminent domain to a company like Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC. And it seeks a preliminary injunction that would prevent FERC from granting that power to Mountain Valley to acquire easements if the commission issues the certificate the company needs to begin constructing a pipeline. Justin Lugar, a lawyer with the firm of Gentry Locke, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court. Defendants include: FERC, Cheryl LaFleur, the commission’s acting chairwoman, and Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC.

Oregon Ecosystem Files Lawsuit To Defend Its Rights

The Siletz River in Lincoln, Oregon. (Photo: USFWS - Pacific Region)

By Dahr Jamail for Truthout – On July 24, the Siletz River Ecosystem (SRE) in Northwestern Oregon took legal action to protect itself. Becoming the third US ecosystem to do so, the SRE took this self-defense step by filing a motion to intervene in the lawsuit Rex Capri and Wakefield Farms, LLC v. Dana W. Jenkins and Lincoln County, and Lincoln County Community Rights. Carol Van Strum, a farmer, author, parent, naturalist, copy editor and co-custodian of 20 acres of temperate rainforest, bottomland and river in the Oregon Coast Range, is an advocate for the intervention of the SRE. She told Truthout why. “This is a significant and groundbreaking effort, literally from the ground, offering a far more effective, comprehensive way to protect the planet we’re part of than piecemeal campaigns to ban a single chemical or fight a single fracking or mining operation at a time,” she said. “It is also significant because it starts with communities taking back control of their lives and environment that industry-controlled governments have taken from them.” “If Nature Has No Rights, Neither Do We”

11 States Sue EPA Over Chemical Accident Safety Rule

One of five banners entitled The Worker in the New World Order, painted for the founding convention of ICEM (International Confederation of Chemical, Energy, Mine & General Workers’ Unions–now merged into INDUSTRIALL). Dedicated to then-imprisoned Nigerian oil workers. Copyright © 1995.  Mike Alewitz

By Staff of Attorney General of NY – NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, leading a coalition of 11 state Attorneys General, today filed a lawsuit against the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for illegally delaying a vital rule meant to protect communities, workers, and first responders from dangerous chemical accidents. The rule – the Accidental Release Prevention Requirements or the “Chemical Accident Safety Rule” – makes critical improvements to Congressionally-mandated protections against explosions, fires, poisonous gas releases, and other accidents at more than 12,000 facilities across the country—including over 200 in New York—that store and use toxic chemicals. The lawsuit is led by Attorney General Schneiderman and signed by the Attorneys General of New York, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. Click here to read the lawsuit. “Protecting our workers, first-responders, and communities from chemical accidents should be something on which we all agree. Yet the Trump EPA continues to put special interests before the health and safety of the people they serve,” said Attorney General Schneiderman.

Coastal Communities Sue 37 Oil, Gas And Coal Companies Over Climate Change

Lawsuits filed by two coastal California counties and a city argue that fossil fuel companies named in the lawsuits knew greenhouse gas emissions had a significant impact on the climate and sea levels and "concealed the dangers." Credit: David McNew/Getty Images

By Georgina Gustin for Inside Climate News – Two California counties and a city are suing 37 fossil fuel companies, accusing them of knowingly emitting dangerous greenhouse gases that have contributed to global warming that threatens their communities with sea level rise. It won’t be an easy case to make, legal experts say, but it’s drawing the interest of private attorneys who see enough potential to take it on. Marin and San Mateo counties, near San Francisco, and the city of Imperial Beach, south of San Diego, filed the new lawsuits in California Superior Court on Monday against Exxon, Shell and 35 other oil, gas and coal companies. Their lawsuits accuse the companies of having known, for nearly five decades, “that greenhouse gas pollution from their fossil fuel products had a significant impact on the Earth’s climate and sea levels.” They say the companies’ “awareness of the negative implications of their behavior corresponds” with rising greenhouse gas emissions. Together, the lawsuits say, the companies were responsible for roughly 20 percent of total emissions from 1965 to 2015. The lawsuits contend that the companies “concealed the dangers, sought to undermine public support for greenhouse gas regulation, and engaged in massive campaigns to promote the ever-increasing use of their products at ever greater volumes.”

ACLU Files 2 Lawsuits Challenging Gag Orders Silencing Victims Of Police Abuse

US-PROTEST-POLICE-GARNER

By Staff of ACLU – BALTIMORE AND SALISBURY, MD – In a coordinated effort to take on “gag orders” that silence victims of police abuse as a condition of resolving their cases, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland today filed two separate lawsuits challenging the practice as an unconstitutional violation of free speech and illegal under Maryland’s public transparency law. The cases were brought on behalf of a woman who was improperly denied half of her settlement award after responding to comments online about her experience of being brutalized by Baltimore police, as well as the Baltimore Brew and the Real News Network, two news organizations denied their First Amendment and statutory rights to obtain newsworthy public information from victims of police abuses. “If your voice held no power, they would not try to silence you. Use your power. Speak up!” said Ashley Overbey, ACLU client in the Baltimore lawsuit. “I am not the first nor will I be the last to be mistreated by police and silenced by my city, but my hope is that through my story and fight, no one else will have to endure what so many of us already have.”

Philando Castile’s Family Settles Lawsuit With City For $3 Million

by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

By John Bacon for USA TODAY – The mother of Philando Castile, a black motorist shot by a Minnesota police officer a year ago, agreed to a $2.995 million settlement with the city of St. Anthony, lawyers announced Monday. Valerie Castile will be paid with insurance funds, and “no taxpayer monies” will be involved, according to a statement issued by the city and the family’s lawyers. Castile, 32, was fatally shot at a traffic stop in July 2016 by officer Jeronimo Yanez. Multiple videos of the shooting and its chaotic aftermath emerged, thrusting the case into the national spotlight. Earlier this month, a jury acquitted Yanez, 29, of manslaughter and other charges in the case, setting off days of protests. “The death of Philando Castile is a tragedy for his family and for our community,” the joint statement says. “The parties moved expeditiously to resolve potential civil claims … in order to allow the process of healing to move forward for the Castile family, for the people of St. Anthony Village, and for all those impacted by the death of Philando Castile throughout the United States.”

Lawsuit, Citing ‘Thin Blue Line,’ Seeks Federal Court Oversight Of CPD

blmlawsuit

By Jon Seidel, Fran Spielman and Mitch Dudek for Chicago Sun Times – Accusing Mayor Rahm Emanuel of trying to cut a “back-room deal” with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, lawyers for Black Lives Matter Chicago and other community groups filed a class-action lawsuit Wednesday seeking federal oversight of the city’s police department. The 132-page complaint immediately blew up the debate over police reform in Chicago. It may force City Hall to the negotiating table after the mayor tried to abandon the idea of a federal monitor. Or, it may lead to a lengthy court battle. Six individuals and seven community groups are named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which was brought on behalf of people who “have been, or in the future will be, subjected to use of force by the CPD.” It also targets 15 police officers, as well as the city. “CPD officers abide by an ingrained code of silence and ‘warrior mentality’ wholly disconnected from the policies that exist on the books,” the plaintiffs’ lawyers wrote in the complaint. “The ‘thin blue line’ reigns supreme. The city of Chicago has proven time and time again that it is incapable of ending its own regime of terror, brutality and discriminatory policing.”

Fighting Climate Change Can Be A Lonely In Oil Country, Especially For A Kid

18298578_1964726377074971_6662881550532608_n

By Neela Banerjee and Zahra Hirji for Inside Climate News – RAYNE, Louisiana—As far back as Jayden Foytlin can remember, her cousin Madison came over to celebrate her birthday. The girls had been best friends since they were toddlers and spent nearly every weekend together, playing video games and basketball in their driveways. This year, things were different. In the weeks before Jayden’s 14th birthday, Madison’s mother stopped arranging get-togethers. She didn’t answer texts inviting Madison to Jayden’s birthday party. “We thought that maybe she was out of town with her family,” Jayden said. “Or I thought that maybe Madison had a sleepover the same day as my birthday.” The text that cleared matters up came on the afternoon of Jayden’s birthday, as she and her family piled into their hybrid SUV to go roller skating. Madison’s mother wrote that her daughter wasn’t allowed to see Jayden anymore. She was keeping Madison away because Jayden is one of 21 young plaintiffs suing the federal government over its alleged failure to curtail fossil fuel development and address climate change.

Kids Climate Lawsuit Heads To Trial, Judge Denies Trump Administration's Appeal

1climtriust

By Staff of Eco Watch – U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken issued an order Thursday denying motions filed by the Trump administration and the fossil fuel industry that sought to appeal her Nov. 10, 2016 order in Juliana v. United States to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The order follows the Trump administration’s remarkable Tuesday night filing of a notice giving Judge Aiken a deadline of June 9 to issue her order. In that notice, the Department of Justice threatened, “In the absence of such resolution by this Court, the United States will seek … review and relief in the Court of Appeals.” The Trump administration is alluding to an intention to seek a writ of mandamus, an extraordinary remedy that is rarely granted, from the higher court. “We are on our way to trial!” said Julia Olson, co-lead counsel for plaintiffs and executive director of Our Children’s Trust. “With industry walking away from the case and the Trump administration’s effort at procedural delay firmly rejected, we can focus on the merits of these youths’ constitutional claims.”

Lawsuits Are Challenging Almost All Trump’s Environmental Offenses

wastewater-310853_1280

By Chelsea Harvey for Fusion – On Thursday, President Trump made international headlines by announcing his intent to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement—a landmark decision that was met with outrage and dismay from climate activists and environmentalists. But while the gesture carries great symbolic significance, signaling the president’s disinterest in international climate efforts, any hope of actually achieving our domestic climate goals pledged under the agreement had already long since vanished. Since January, the Trump administration has taken swift steps to dismantle numerous climate and environmental priorities established under the Obama administration, including the repeal of multiple environmental regulations. And environmentalists are fighting back—by way of the courts, that is. Just about every environment-related action the Trump administration has taken has been met with a legal challenge. Trump is no stranger to litigation—reports suggest he was sued thousands of times as part of his career in real estate before ever becoming president. But since assuming office, he’s also been met with record-setting numbers of legal challenges.

Residents Sue To Block Nuclear Waste From Being Stored Near California Beach

Drums of nuclear waste in a salt shaft at New Mexico's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. (photo: Brian van der Brug/LA Times) go to original article

By Staff of Democracy Now – Environmental activists in California are fighting plans to store 3.6 million pounds of highly radioactive nuclear waste on a popular beach in San Diego County. In 2012, a radioactive leak at the San Onofre nuclear power plant forced an emergency shutdown. The plant was fully closed by June 2013. Now residents are fighting the permit issued by the California Coastal Commission to store the millions of pounds of nuclear waste in thin, stainless steel canisters, within 100 feet of the ocean. We speak to Ray Lutz, founder of Citizens’ Oversight, which has filed a lawsuit challenging the expansion of the nuclear waste storage facility.

Lawsuit Challenges Trump Reversal Of Arctic And Atlantic Drilling Ban

kulluk-PA3-Jon-Klingenberg-Coast-Guard-800

By Staff of Earth Justice – The groups, League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Alaska Wilderness League, Defenders of Wildlife, Northern Alaska Environmental Center, REDOIL (Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands), Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace and The Wilderness Society, represented by attorneys at Earthjustice and Natural Resources Defense Council, issued the following joint statement: “President Trump’s April 28 executive order exceeds his constitutional and statutory authority and violates federal law. Responding to a national groundswell of opposition to expanded offshore drilling, President Obama permanently ended oil and gas leasing in most of the Arctic Ocean and key parts of the Atlantic Ocean in December, using his authority under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA). Until Trump, no president has ever tried to reverse a permanent withdrawal made under OCSLA, which does not authorize such a reversal. Trump’s executive order could open up more than 120 million acres of ocean territory to the oil and gas industry, affecting 98 percent of federal Arctic Ocean waters and 31 biologically rich deepwater canyons in the Atlantic Ocean.