Friends of the Earth v. Laidlaw Environmental Services, Inc. (TOC), 528 U.S. 167(2000):
The editorial in the Washington Post declared this case “A Win for the Environment.” The Supreme Court’s 7 to 2 decision reversed the series of Supreme Court decisions, often authored by Justice Scalia, in which citizens were denied access to the federal courts due to their lack of standing under the Constitution. Under Laidlaw, citizens who have been affected by polluters can go to federal court to seek relief and enforce environmental laws.
The district court decision in the Laidlaw case is also significant. 890 F. Supp. 470 (D.S.C. 1995). The district court held that government enforcement of environmental laws was not diligent prosecution unless the penalty assessed removed the economic benefit of noncompliance. The district court reasoned that a prosecution could not have been diligent if it left the violator in a better financial position than a company that had complied with the law from the start.
Terris, Pravlik & Millian, LLP is a public interest law firm that litigates cases for clients with matters involving Environmental Law, Civil Rights Law, and Employment Law.