Law School Case Brief
Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Envtl. Servs. (TOC), Inc. - 528 U.S. 167
When a party argues that voluntary cessation of an activity renders an action moot, the claiming party must sustain the burden of proving that the allegedly wrong behavior could not reasonably be expected to recur in the future.
Petitioner alleges Defendant was violating mercury discharge limits of the Clean Water Act, and brought a citizen suit against Defendant. Defendant argues that the suit is moot either because it achieved substantial compliance with the permit guidelines by August 1992 or because of its shutdown of the facility in question. Lower Courts found in then defendant's favor, and the Petitioner appeals from these rulings.
Whether the Fourth Circuit erred when it concluded that the petitioners' claim for civil penalties had to be dismissed as moot when respondent eventually came into compliance.
Yes, the Fourth Circuit erred when it concluded that the petitioners' claim for civil penalties had to be dismissed as moot when respondent eventually came into compliance.
In reversing then Fourth Circuit's ruling, the Court held that the Defendant has not demonstrated why or how the complained of actions will not reoccur in the future. Because of this inability to provide the necessary proof, the Court reversed the Fourth Circuit's ruling.
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