To determine who you can sue in an environmental justice case, look for the cause of the problem. Environmental injustice can appear in multiple forms and be committed by any person or organization. Therefore, you will have to find who is responsible for the problem before you can determine who to sue.
For example, a lending company that practices discrimination that leads to minority groups suffering a higher rate of environmental impact-related injuries is the cause of the problem. You should be able to file a lawsuit against the company or against an individual within the company who is responsible for that practice.
Overview of Environmental Justice
According to the Department of Energy (DOE), fair treatment for environmental justice cases means that all populations bear the same share of negative consequences from operations, with equal protection and enforcement of laws and environmental regulations. This means that group distinctions do not determine how people are impacted by laws, regulations, and the actions of organizations.
This is a difficult concept to see in practice since the divisions between groups are always made apparent. However, significant progress has been made in trying to implement environmental justice concepts and principles at all levels of government and society.
Environmental Justice Law
Environmental justice has become an increasingly important platform for politicians and lawmakers as well as community groups and activist organizations. As a result of continued and widespread action to improve environmental justice laws, more laws are on the record attacking injustices across the country.
This process has reached the highest levels of government, including the Presidency of the United States. According to the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), President Clinton signed Executive Order (EO) 12898, known as the Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority and Low-Income Populations, to address the conditions of minority and poor populations while naming agencies in charge of enforcement and of these policies. If you are trying to file an environmental justice case, you can look to these agencies for assistance in understanding the law and developing your case.
There are already many laws that govern how organizations and companies are required to protect the environment. There also laws that are designed to protect people from discrimination and specific policies that create environmental injustices throughout society. Many of these organizations are government agencies on the federal and state level.
These include organizations like the EPA, whose primary job is to protect the environment and protect people from environment-related problems. If you need assistance understanding or creating an environmental justice case, you can turn to these agencies for guidance on the legal structures that are in place to promote environmental justice.
Filing a Claim
Anyone can file an environmental justice claim in civil court. Criminal actions are handled by government agencies and criminal courts. In order to file your environmental justice claim, you have to be personally affected by the action that you are filing a complaint about.
For example, you can file a claim if a company dumps toxic waste in your drinking water and you develop a serious illness. However, you cannot file a claim if the company dumps toxic wastes into the neighboring counties’ drinking water that you do not have access to. Since the toxic waste does not reach your drinking water, you cannot file a claim.
On the surface, this can appear inaccurate since there are many cases where large environmental protection agencies have filed cases against companies for a variety of polluting actions. In reality, these agencies manage cases on behalf of individuals either as class-action lawsuits or as an individual lawsuit. While the agency appears to be filing the case, it is only managing the case where an individual filed a claim against a larger entity. This means that you can file a claim and get support from major legal agencies from across the country to help you hold companies liable for your injuries.
Your Legal Options for Recourse
If you are injured because of environmental injustices, you have the right to file a lawsuit against the person or organization responsible. If the injustice violates standing laws, you could report the violation to one of the environmental agencies responsible for protecting the environment. They can help in some cases. In other cases, you may opt to file a civil lawsuit to claim financial compensation for your expenses.
Whichever option you choose, discussing your case with a lawyer before taking action can have a substantial impact on how your case is resolved. An environmental justice lawyer can help you understand the regulations and legal options that you have available so that you can make the best-informed decision for your situation.
Connect with a Lawyer Today
If you have questions about who you can sue in an environmental justice case, we can help. Call Ben Crump Law, PLLC at (800) 959-1444 to learn more about your potential options. We are happy to help you understand the laws related to what happened to you. There is no cost for the consultation.