Environmental Law Foundation

Current Cases

ELF continues to work on improving environmental quality for communities and consumers by providing access to information and through the enforcement of environmental, toxics, and right-to-know laws. This list includes cases in active litigation, it does not include prior cases nor those in which settlements have been secured and are being monitored.

Protecting Communities       

LEAD IN CHILDREN'S FOODS

(current case )

On September 28, 2011 the Environmental Law Foundation filed a lawsuit alleging the toxic chemical lead was found in a variety of children's and baby foods. The food categories are: grape juice, packaged pears and peaches, fruit cocktail, and baby foods containing carrots peaches, pears and sweet potatoes. The lawsuit seeks warning labels on the offending foods under Proposition 65, the Toxics Right to Know law.

Complaint

Product List

FAQs and Information about the testing program and law

News Release

ELF, et al. v. STATE WATER RESOURCES CONTROL BOARD, et al.

(protecting groundwater through the Public Trust Doctrine)

ELF, along with Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations and Institute for Fisheries Resources, filed a lawsuit against the State Water Resources Control Board and Siskiyou County for violations of the California Public Trust Doctrine. The State and County have failed to manage groundwater extractions in the Scott River sub-basin in a manner consistent with their duties under the Public Trust Doctrine. As a result, numerous wells extract groundwater during irrigation season which cause a decreased flow in the Scott River, which injures the river’s populations of salmon and steelhead. This lawsuit seeks both declaratory and injunctive relief and hopes to protect the Scott River through better groundwater management by these responsible public entities.

Press Release

Complaint

Answer & Written Return

Frequently Asked Questions

Daily Journal Article 8.2.11

CONTRERAS, et. al v. LAIDLAW TRANSIT INC., et al.

(false claims act lawsuit)

Two former Laidlaw mechanics are joined by ELF in litigation against Laidlaw Transit, Inc. for violating its contract with the San Francisco Unified School District, alleging Laidlaw operates unsafe, polluting school buses.  The lawsuit is filed under the False Claims Act and seeks payment to the District for sub- standard services.

Press Release

Complaint

Letter-SFUSD to Laidlaw

Letter-Laidlaw to SFUSD

ELF, et.al v. LAIDLAW TRANSIT INC., et al.

(children's exposure to diesel engine exhaust)


ELF is joined by Our Children’s Earth Foundation and Communities for a Better Environment in litigation against Laidlaw Transit, Inc. and Durham School Services, two of the largest school bus contractors in North America, for failing to warn parents that children who ride diesel buses are exposed to diesel engine exhaust, a mixture of chemicals known to cause cancer. Recent studies have shown that a significant amount of the pollution on a school bus is “self-pollution” from the bus’ own exhaust and a child riding inside a diesel school bus may be exposed to as much as 4 times the level of toxic diesel engine exhaust as someone riding in a car along the same route. The lawsuit is filed under California’s Proposition 65 (the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986) and seeks a court order to provide warnings about the diesel engine exhaust by the time the next school year starts.


Complaint, filed May 2, 2006 (pdf)
First Amended Complaint, filed January 3, 2007 (pdf)

Preliminary Injunction Motion, filed May 15, 2007 (pdf)

     Declaration of Eduardo Behrentz, D. Env. (pdf)

     Declaration of Camille Sears, MS (pdf)

     Declaration of Dr. Rajiv Batia, MD, MPH (pdf)

     Declaration of Manuel Contreras (pdf)

     Declaration of William Padilla (pdf)

     Diesel Health Backgrounder (pdf)

     Settlement with Durham 8-7-07 (pdf)

     Settlement with Laidlaw 8-6-08 (pdf)

Protecting the Environment

CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY, et al. v. FPL GROUP, et al. (Public Trust - Amicus Curiae Brief)

ELF submitted an amicus curiae brief in this landmark case, spearheaded by the Center for Biological Diversity (“CBD”). In this case, CBD sued power companies for the operation of aging wind turbines on Altamont Pass, which kill thousands of raptors and other birds each year, on the theory that their operation violates the Public Trust Doctrine. In a unanimous opinion, the California Court of Appeals held that the Public Trust Doctrine does extend to the protection of birds and other wildlife.

CBD v. FPL Group BRIEF OF AMICUS CURIAE (pdf)

CBD v. FPL Group OPINION(pdf)

CBD v. FPL Group ORDER MODIFYING OPINION(pdf)

ELF v. SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA GAS COMPANY, et al.

(BTEX contamination of protected aquifers)

In California, water is our most precious natural resource. Unfortunately, California’s precious resource is being contaminated with chemicals that cause cancer and birth defects, chemicals that include Benzene, Toluene and Ethylbenzene (“BTEX”).

Southern California Gas Company operates a natural gas storage reservoir in the densely populated Playa del Rey region of Los Angeles. Wells from this underground gas storage reservoir are leaking and releasing BTEX into the Ballona, Silverado and Gage Aquifers, which are protected sources of drinking water under California’s water quality protection plan. This action seeks, among other remedies, civil penalties and injunctive relief to redress the discharge of BTEX from Defendants’ wells in violation of California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (“Proposition 65").

Complaint, filed January 11, 2007 (pdf)

same Complaint, smaller file (tif)

Exhibit 1 (pdf)

Exhibit 2 (pdf)

Exhibit 3 (pdf)

Exhibit 4 (pdf)

Exhibit 5 (pdf)

Frequently Asked Questions (pdf)

Press Release (pdf)

KARUK TRIBE OF CALIFORNIA v. US FOREST SERVICE

(endangered salmon)


ELF is representing the Karuk Tribe of California in its lawsuit alleging the Six Rivers and Klamath National Forests are permitting illegal mining activities in and along the Salmon, Klamath, and Scott Rivers and their tributaries. The lawsuit addresses the proliferation of essentially unregulated suction dredge and other mining in these National Forests. The Forest Service’s failure to properly regulate mining in these watersheds threatens Tribal Trust Resources, threatens the Tribe’s efforts to restore these fisheries to subsistence harvest levels, and violates the federal government’s trust responsibilities owed to the Tribe.   

The Forest Service’s actions violate numerous federal environmental laws. The agency is violating their own Forest Plans and the National Forest Management Act by permitting mining in these waterways without requiring a Plan of Operations for each proposed mining operation.  The agency is mandated to ensure there won’t be degradation to the natural resources which includes the salmon and their habitat. Further, the Forest Service is not preparing the appropriate NEPA document for each of these operations, let alone for combined or grouped operations, thereby preventing the agency from analyzing and balancing the potential environmental damage from suction dredge mining. Along with these failures, the Forest Service is allowing these operations to proceed without the required consultation with NOAA Fisheries/National Marine Fisheries Service and/or Fish and Wildlife Service, as required by Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act to ensure the agency’s action will not jeopardize the listed Coho salmon and other listed species and/or their habitat. Finally, the Forest Service has not ensured that all discharges from mining operations it has or will authorize or allow will comply with all applicable water quality standards and requirements, in violation of the Clean Water Act and the Organic Act.
Second Amended Complaint, filed January 31, 2005 (pdf)

KLAMATH-SISKIYOU WILD, et al. v. US FOREST SERVICE
(timber sale)

Working with the Pacific Environmental Advocacy Center in Oregon, ELF is representing several conservation groups in a challenge to the Meteor timber sale near the Salmon River on the Klamath National Forest. The claims involved in this case address the failure to comply with the Northwest Forest Plan's protection of old growth forests snags, and riparian areas; NEPA's requirement to consider a reasonable range of alternatives; NFMA's requirement to maintain viable populations of species, and to comply with state water quality laws; and the CWA's requirement to comply with state water quality standards.      
First Amended Complaint, filed March 23, 2005 (pdf)

Protecting Consumers

ELF v. BIRDS EYE FOODS, INC., et al.

(acrylamide in potato chips)

Wiith Rose, Klein & Marias, LLP and The Law Office of Gideon Krakov, ELF is suing potato chip manufacturers and California retailers for failing to warn consumers about high levels of a cancer-causing chemical, acrylamide, in potato chips.  This lawsuit seeks to enforce California's powerful right-to-know law, Prop 65, which requires that manufacturers warn consumers when their products expose them to cancer-causing chemicals.  In this situation, significant amounts of a potent carcinogen, acrylamide, is formed during the processing of potato chips.  California voters gave themselves the right to know about carcinogens in food in 1986, however, powerful junk food companies have been lobbying to keep this information under wraps and warnings off potato chip bags. 

Complaint, filed August 8, 2006 (pdf)

ELF, et.al v. COST PLUS, INC., et al.   

(lead in balsamic vinegar)


This is a series of Proposition 65 cases concerning lead in balsamic wine vinegar. These cases are among the first to bring California's powerful right-to-know law into the grocery store.

Complaint against Cost Plus, Inc., et al., filed June 5, 2003 (pdf)  
Complaint against Borges UCA, Inc., et al., filed February 20, 2004 (pdf)  
Complaint against Albeco, Inc., et al., filed October 13, 2004 (pdf)

 

 

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