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Securing access to justice: fighting for your day in court (button)

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Overview of Public Justice and the Public Justice Foundation

Nearly 25 years ago, 200 of the nation’s outstanding trial lawyers decided to create a new type of organization: a national public interest trial lawyers’ firm. They envisioned a unique, membership-supported law firm that would fight for justice through precedent-setting litigation, exposing the truth and making the wrongdoers pay.

Today, as Public Justice, we are America's public interest law firm. Supported by over 3,500 trial lawyers, other attorneys, and public interest advocates throughout the world, our cutting-edge litigation has made new law and won justice for thousands by:

  • advancing consumers’ rights;
  • preserving the environment;
  • upholding civil rights and liberties;
  • preventing toxic injuries;
  • defending workers’ rights; and
  • safeguarding the civil justice system.

Our special projects preserve access to justice by fighting federal preemption, unnecessary court secrecy, class action bans and abuses, the misuse of mandatory arbitration, and other efforts to deprive Americans of their day in court. We keep the courthouse doors open for all.

Key victories and cases in the categories listed above are highlighted below. We invite you to sign up for free Public Justice E-lerts to receive occasional updates on our important cases.


Advancing Consumers’ Rights

Public Justice is holding unscrupulous businesses and manufacturers of unsafe products accountable nationwide.

HMOs: In Riemer v. Columbia Medical Plan, we proved that HMOs in Maryland were illegally double-billing their members. When Maryland subsequently passed a law retroactively authorizing this practice, we won a groundbreaking ruling in Harvey v. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan that struck down the law as unconstitutional.

Auto and Boat Safety: Our Airbag Litigation Project prompted the auto companies to install airbags faster. Our Federal Preemption Project preserved the rights of millions to sue for injuries caused by unsafe cars, trucks, and boats.

Credit Card Companies: In Wells v. Chevy Chase Bank, we are fighting to hold a credit card company accountable for gouging its customers and breaking its promise to "never" charge more than 24% interest.

Defective Products: In Cox v. Shell Oil Company, we created a new model for consumer class action settlements and won unprecedented relief for millions of homeowners victimized by defective, leaking plastic plumbing.


Protecting the Environment

Public Justice is making polluters across the country clean up their act.

Clean Water: Our Environmental Enforcement Project has already won the largest Clean Water Act citizen suit settlements in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, and Tennessee. Now we’re prosecuting polluters in several other states.

Clean Air: We won the largest Clean Air Act settlement in New Jersey and the first Clean Air Act citizen suit settlement in Texas. We also stopped an asbestos removal experiment that would have exposed poor minorities in one U.S. city to extraordinary dangers. Now we’re suing the nation’s largest electric utility for spewing tons of sulfuric acid into the air daily.

Exxon Valdez
: Our suit against Exxon and Alaska Pipeline Co. helped document the full effects of the disastrous Prince William Sound oil spill and prompted a major increase in the government’s recovery for environmental damage.

Mountaintop Removal Mining: Our landmark lawsuits changed the federal government’s and West Virginia’s entire regulatory approach to mountaintop removal mining. Now, we’re leading the fight to stop coal companies from blowing up mountains and dumping the waste in the valleys and streams below.


Upholding Civil Rights and Liberties

Public Justice is fighting for the Constitution and our civil rights every day.

Due Process: In Hamdi v. Rumsfeld and Rasul v. Bush, we helped persuade the U.S. Supreme Court to hold that the war on terrorism does not give the President unlimited, unreviewable power to imprison American citizens and foreign nationals indefinitely without any hearing or court review.

Sex Discrimination: Our landmark Title IX litigation successfully battled sex discrimination at Brown University and over ten other schools, preserved women’s opportunities to participate in intercollegiate athletics, and made new law to advance women’s rights. In a key employment discrimination suit, we won equal pay and promotional opportunities for women at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Race Discrimination: In Maxey v. Alcoa, we helped win a ground-breaking settlement for African-American and Hispanic hourly employees shut out of skilled trade apprentice opportunities because of discrimination resulting from the company’s misuse of standardized tests.

Disability Rights: The unprecedented settlement we and Disability Rights Advocates won in ASK v. Oregon Department of Education created a national model for schools to use to properly accommodate children’s learning disabilities. Now, we’re fighting disability discrimination by a private contractor providing housing for U.S. military families.


Preventing Toxic Injuries

Public Justice is winning justice for victims of dangerous chemicals and other toxic harms.

Contaminated Drinking Water: In one of our first cases, Anderson v. W.R. Grace, we developed new techniques for proving toxic torts and helped win compensation for eight families with children who died from leukemia caused by toxic waste dumped in Woburn, Massachusetts.

Lead Paint: We filed the first lawsuits in the country against the lead industry for lead paint poisoning and lead paint abatement, and continue to work to hold the industry accountable today.

Unsafe Pesticides: Our Chlordane/Heptachlor Litigation project helped victims of these two deadly pesticides win compensation – and prompted the manufacturer to remove them from the market.

Toxic Tort Victims’ Rights: In four separate U.S. Supreme Court cases, we helped preserve the rights of asbestos victims and of Vietnam veterans fatally exposed to Agent Orange.


Defending Workers’ Rights

Public Justice is battling for the right to a safe workplace and just working conditions.

Migrant Farmworkers: In Buenrostro v. Washington State Apple Advertising Commission, we won an unprecedented class action victory for over 800 migrant farmworkers lured to the state with false promises of jobs and free immigration assistance.

Nuclear Power Plants: In Atchison v. Brown & Root, we achieved a milestone settlement for seven whistleblowers who were fired for reporting dangerous safety violations at Texas’ Comanche Peak nuclear power plant.

Electromagnetic Radiation: In Strom v. Boeing, we won extensive damages for a leukemia victim and medical monitoring for 700 of his co-workers who were unwittingly exposed to electromagnetic pulse radiation as part of a secret experiment run by the aerospace company.

Worker Safety: We won a key settlement in Guzman v. Amvac Chemical Corp., our precedent-setting suit against a pesticide manufacturer for poisoning workers with a product that should never have been marketed.


Preserving Access to Justice

Our Access to Justice Campaign is keeping the courthouse doors open for all.

Federal Preemption Project: Since our inception, we have been fighting dangerous product manufacturers’ and other corporate wrongdoers’ efforts to expand the federal preemption defense and eliminate their victims’ right to sue. We’ve won throughout the legal system – and in the Supreme Court.

Court Secrecy: Our nationwide project against unnecessary court secrecy, Project ACCESS, unseals evidence of dangers to the public health and safety, helps injury victims and others oppose overbroad protective orders, and educates the public about the dangers of litigation in secret.

Class Action Preservation: We won the nation’s biggest victory against corporate efforts to use consumer and employment contracts to bar customers and workers from participating in class actions against them. Our Class Action Preservation Project ensures the integrity of class actions by challenging class action bans and other schemes used by corporate wrongdoers to cap their liability and limit their victims’ rights.

Mandatory Arbitration: In Ting v. AT&T, we stopped the phone giant from using a mandatory arbitration provision to eliminate its California long distance customers’ rights to sue in court, participate in class actions, and seek punitive damages. Our Mandatory Arbitration Abuse Prevention Project is the national leader in the battle against corporate efforts to use mandatory arbitration to eliminate access to the courts.

The Public Justice Foundation Please Join Us!

What makes our public interest work possible is the active and generous support of the Public Justice Foundation’s members. While Public Justice litigates in the courts, The Public Justice Foundation – a nonprofit educational membership organization – supports Public Justice’s cases and educates the public about the important issues at stake.

We hope you will join us.

Membership contributions to the Public Justice Foundation are fully tax deductible and are a tremendous investment in justice. A membership application form is located on our web site, You may print that out and mail to us at the Public Justice Foundation, 1825 K Street, NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20006, or fax it to us at 202-232-7203. Or you may give us a call at 202-797-8600.

Join us today. Become a trial lawyer for public justice.


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National Headquarters
1825 K Street, NW 
Suite 200
Washington, DC 20006
ph: 202-797-8600
fax: 202-232-7203

Public Justice
© 2007 Public Justice Foundation

West Coast Office
555 12th Street
Suite 1620
Oakland, CA 94607
ph: 510-622-8150
fax: 510-622-8155