North Carolina Court Holds Citizen Suit Plaintiffs Can Have Claims for Relief Heard By A Jury


On December 29, 2014, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina held that the plaintiffs in a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and Clean Water Act (CWA) citizens-suit against the owners and operator of a swine farm had the right to have the case tried before a jury. The case is North Carolina Environmental Justice Network, et al , v. Taylor, et. al. It is alleged that the defendants illegally dumped swine waste into the waters and onto the lands surrounding the swine farm. The defendants challenged the demand for a jury trial, and both sides argued that a 1987 Supreme Court decision, Tull v. U.S., 481 U. S. 412 (1987), supported their positions. After reviewing the Tull case and other precedents, the District Court held that the Tull decision, which discussed the right to a jury trial when the federal government was seeking civil penalties, was a Seventh Amendment right available to either side in a citizens-suit case.