Reflections on ‘Save the Environment’ Lawsuits

Eco-green lawsuits arise from the battle between commercial interests backed by governmental authority on the one side pitted against activists’ objection and obstruction against creating potential hazards from non-eco friendly projects, on the other.As society worldwide becomes increasingly more aware of possible eco-hazards, and there is no other recourse but to refer to Courts for protection. Eco-green lawsuits revolve around issues like pesticide pollution, gasoline leaks, greenhouse gas emissions effecting climate, toxic water contamination, plastic bottle pollution, nuclear disaster.

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Damage lawsuits

Lawsuits arising from injury are filed against a manufacturer where their products have caused toxic injury. Typically, these include:

  • Occupational injury

Unlike workman’s compensation cases that hold the employer responsible, thesecases are filed against a third party or supplier of manufactured goods.

  • Environmental damage

These cases are filed against toxic dumping of hazardous materials polluting rivers, and pesticides pollution.

  • Harmful pharmaceutical reaction

These are Class Action Suits bygroups of people harmed by the adverse effects of certain drugs.

Onus of proofin toxic tort lawsuits

It must be established beyond any suspicion that:

  • Someone has suffered from exposure to specific harmful toxic materials.
  • Such exposure caused sickness like cancer or deformities.
  • Justify why compensation should be allowed on the offender.

Emergence of Eco green litigations

Incidence of eco-green lawsuits have increased because while corporations/governments have unabatedly abused the environment, global populations have gained more awareness of ecology-destructive practices.Eco laws have gained clarity and power enabling imposing punitive penalty against offenders, and importantly, lawsuit funding companies have emerged for such eco-green lawsuit.

US & International Environmental Law and Policy

The objective of certain federal acts like The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA); the Environmental Quality Improvement Act; and the National Environmental Education Act is to monitor environment protection that refuted liability for costs of reversal of damages caused to the eco-system. While NEPA is mandated to compel governmental agencies to consider the effects of their destructive actions on the environment, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA or EPA) acts as a watchdog to analyze the environment, conduct research, and coordinate pollution control measures with local administrations. Thus, environmental laws are enforced by the EPA who is responsible for implementing several statutes. On the basis of such laws, anyone can raise the alarm on environmental violations and initiate lawsuits through environmental law firms.

Several countries have enacted eco-protection laws concerning environmental issues out of the bad business practices of governments, corporations and individuals, regulating:

  • Environment protection, prohibiting random discard of toxic effluents and hazardous waste materials in public places.
  • Violation of eco/green statutes and its consequence and obligations on offenders for damage reversal.
  • Property protection from negative environmental impacts

However serious the environment violation be, Eco lawsuits cause a huge financial drain as such matters are always long drawn over decades before any conclusive relief is available. With protracted processes of evidence and depositions by experts in diverse fields, viz. radiation, biology and micro biology, environment, chemical engineering, mining and mineral resource, etc, eco-green lawsuits involve complex legal processes with both sides being represented by heavy weight counsels involving massive legal expenditure. Since activists have limited resources apart from public backing, which is inadequate when standing up for a cause involving legal ramifications, such lawsuits depend heavily upon the financial support of 3rd party funding agencies.Thus eco/green lawsuits have become prime examples of lawsuit funding, supporting the weaker social interest side with adequatefinancing to sustain the highest professional quality of litigation to protect the greater social interest.

John Herbert, based in Hawaii, is a popular writer on various issues related to environment protection and is part of a lobby against harmful business practices damaging natural resources. Earlier, he worked in a couple of lawsuit funding companies.