Jump in Federal Civil Environmental Litigation
(21 Feb 2018) The latest available data from the federal courts show that during January 2018 the government reported 172 new environmental civil lawsuits filed. This is the third month in a row in which an unusually large number of new environmental matters were filed, bringing the latest quarter to a total of 745 new cases. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University, this number is up 276 percent over the previous quarter when the number of civil filings of this type totaled 198.

The jump in lawsuits during the last quarter was driven by litigation in the Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans) involving various claimants and BP Exploration & Production, Inc. These suits were part of the multi-district litigation that was assigned to U.S. District Judge Carl J. Barbier in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Here the cause of action arose largely under the Oil Pollution Act, Title 33 Section 2701.

Civil environmental litigation in the remaining 93 federal judicial districts shows no recent upward trend. In fact, for the rest of the country the quarter ending October 2016 showed the highest level of new environmental suits and new civil litigation has generally fallen since then.

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