The Plastics Litigation Tracker tracks cases addressing plastics across federal and state courts. It includes resolved cases and cases that are still pending. The cases can be filtered by category, plaintiff, defendant, and jurisdiction. They are listed in reverse chronological order based on the date of the latest update in each case. Where there is no decision, the cases will appear in alphabetical order. Descriptions of the categories can be found here. This blog post gives an introduction to the project and analyzes trends evident from the cases in the tracker at the time it was launched.
The tracker will be updated as cases are resolved and new cases are filed. To submit cases, updates, or corrections to this database, please email [email protected]nyu.edu.
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Downing v. Keurig Green Mountain, Inc., No. 21-08023 (1st Cir. 2021)
Allegations: Plaintiff, a customer who purchased single-serve plastic coffee pods made by defendant, asserts a single consumer claim under M.G.L. c. 93A § 9 (“Chapter 93A”) on behalf of a proposed national class of consumers. Keurig markets and labels the Pods as recyclable, but plaintiff alleges the Pods are not, in fact, recyclable as that term is defined under applicable Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) guidance.
Status: On June 25, 2022, the plaintiff appealed the district court’s decision to strike the nationwide class allegations. The district court concluded that no such nationwide class could be certified under Rule 23 because Chapter 93A’s remedies do not extend to consumers who purchased the Pods outside of Massachusetts. This case is pending.
Connecticut v. Reynolds Consumer Products, Inc., No. HHD-CV-22-6156769 (Conn. Super. Ct. 2022)
Allegations: Plaintiff, Connecticut Attorney General, brought an action against Reynolds Consumer Products, Inc. alleging that the company falsely and deceptively marketed Hefty trash bags as “recyclable” despite knowing they could not be recycled in Connecticut recycling facilities, in violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act. The AG's office seeks injunctive relief, equitable relief, and civil penalties to redress injuries to Connecticut consumers from the defendant's business practices and product representations. Filed 6/14/2022.
Coal. to Protect Puget Sound Habitat v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, No. 2:21-cv-01685 (W.D. Wash. 2021)
Allegations: Plaintiffs, environmental group, filed an action against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers seeking to challenge a permit pertaining to shellfish aquaculture. The Plaintiffs argued that the permits "must be invalidated" because, in essence, the approved practice could result in plastics being introduced into the waterways in violation of the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.
Status: The district court awarded summary judgment to the plaintiffs. The 9th Circuit Court affirmed, holding that the data reviewed was insufficient (No. 20-35547). On December 20, 2021 the Coalition filed a second complaint in the Western District of Washington at Seattle. The complaint challenges the Corps’ failure to comply with (1) the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA); (2) the Clean Water Act (CWA); (3) the Endangered Species Act (ESA); (4) the Rivers and Harbors Act (RHA); and/or (5) the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). As of June 10, 2022 the district court judge has granted plaintiffs’ motion to file a second amended complaint.
Earth Island Inst. v. BlueTriton Brands, No. 2021-CA-003027 (D.C. Super. Ct. 2022)
Allegations: Plaintiff, environmental organization, brought an action against BlueTriton Brands (formerly known as Nestle Waters North America) seeking injunctive relief against the Defendant trade practices and declarative relief in the form of an order holding the Defendant conduct to be unlawful. The Plaintiff alleged that the Defendant violated the D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act, arguing that the Defendant marketing is false and deceptive because the company portrays itself as sustainable and committed to reducing plastic pollution through its recycling targets while falling short of those targets and continuing its environmentally harmful practices. Filed 8/27/21.
Status: On June 7, 2022, the Defendant's motion to dismiss was denied in superior court. Previously, the Defendant removed the case to federal court. The Court granted Plaintiff motion to remand and denied its request for fees and costs.
Earth Island Institute v. Crystal Geyser Water Co., No. 20CIV01213 (Cal. Super. Ct. 2020)
Allegations: Plaintiff, environmental organization, brought an action against Crystal Geyser Water Co. and other plastic bottle producers seeking compensatory and equitable relief for injuries sustained as a result of plastic pollution, which Plaintiff claimed to be a result of the dissemination of the Defendants' products. The Plaintiff also claimed that the Defendants misinformed consumers about how their products become pollutants. The Plaintiff brought these claims under under California public nuisance law, strict product liability for failure to warn and design defect, breach of express warranty, and unlawful practices under the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act. Filed 2/26/2020.
Status: Defendants’ Motion to Quash Summons and Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction was denied on June 6th 2022 by the Superior Court of California of the County of San Mateo. The case will be heard in California. Previously, the action was moved from California Superior Court to Federal Court following Defendants' motion. Here, the Court granted Plaintiff's motion to remand the case to San Mateo County Superior Court, rejecting the Defendants' theory of complete preemption by federal common law and holding that the Defendants had not satisfied their burden to establish federal jurisdiction.
Greenpeace v. Walmart, Inc., No. 3:21-cv-00754 (N.D. Cal. 2021)
Allegations: Plaintiff, environmental organization, brought an action against Walmart, Inc. for injunctive relief enjoining Defendant's acts of unfair competition. The Plaintiff alleges that the Defendant's labeling of products as recyclable are material, untrue, and misleading, thus constituting unfair competition under California law and Section 4 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, as well as violating the California Environmental Marketing Claims Act. Filed 3/29/2021.
Outcome: On June 3, 2022, the parties filed a joint stipulation for dismissal. This followed the court's granting of defendant's motion to dismiss with leave to amend. The motion to dismiss was granted because plaintiff failed to sufficiently allege, for purposes of Article III standing, an injury based on future diversions of resources.
The Last Beach Cleanup v. Gelson's Markets, No. 22SCTV18216 (Cal. Super. Ct. 2022)
Allegations: Plaintiff is a non-profit alleging that Gelson's Markets continues to sell non-recyclable plastic grocery bags to consumers despite a California law requiring any plastic reusable grocery bag to be recyclable. Plaintiff seeks an order enjoining defendant's unlawful conduct. Filed 6/3/2022.
The Last Beach Cleanup v. Stater Brothers, No. 22STCV18252 (Cal. Super. Ct. 2022)
Allegations: Plaintiff, a non-profit dedicated to ending plastic pollution, alleges that defendant continues to sell non-recyclable plastic bags despite the California law banning the sale of non-recyclable plastic bags. Plaintiff seeks an order enjoining the defendant's unlawful conduct. Filed 6/3/2022.
Bargetto v. Walgreen Co., No. 3:22-cv-02639 (N.D. Cal. 2022)
Allegations: Plaintiff represents a class alleging that defendant continues to sell non-recyclable plastic bags despite a California law banning the sale of non-recyclable plastic bags. The class seeks an order enjoining the defendant's unlawful conduct, as well as damages to compensate them for the deceptive practices. Filed 4/29/2022.
City of Philadelphia et al. v. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, No. 42 MD 2021 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2021)
Allegations: Plaintiffs, the City of Philadelphia and other local governments, brought an action against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania seeking declarative and injunctive relief declaring a section of the state annual Fiscal Code to be unconstitutional and enjoining the state from enforcing the relevant section of the act. The Plaintiffs alleged that the relevant section of the act, which prohibits a local governmental body or agency to enact or enforce a law, rule, regulation or ordinance imposing a tax on or relation to the use, disposition, sale, prohibition or restriction of single-use plastics violated the state constitution. Filed 3/3/2021.
Outcome: On April 1, 2022, Philadelphia's plastic bag ban went into effect. Previously, this case was stayed and discontinued.