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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Perri v. Croskrey, No. 1:21-cv-01423 (D. Del. 2021)
Allegations: Plaintiff, Ryan Perri, brought a stockholder derivative action against members of the board of directors and upper management for Danimer Scientific, Inc. with Danimer Scientific serving as the nominal defendant, seeking declarative relief and damages for the benefit of Danimer. The Plaintiff alleged that the Individual Defendants violated Section 20(a) of the Exchange Act of 1934, breached their fiduciary duties, unjustly enriched themselves, and wasted corporate assets by making false or misleading statements that failed to disclose that Danimer had deficient internal controls, misrepresenting its operation size and regulatory compliance, overstating the biodegradability of the company product. The suit allegations are similar to those in a securities class action brought in the federal district court for the Eastern District of New York against the same Defendant. Filed 10/6/2021.
Status: The case was administratively closed on March 25, 2022. The case was temporarily stayed on October 20, 2021 until the resolution of the defendants' motion to dismiss in the securities litigation.
Earth Island Inst. v. Coca-Cola Co., No. 1:21-cv-1926 (D.D.C. 2022)
Allegations: Plaintiff, environmental organization, brought an action against Coca-Cola Co. seeking declarative and injunctive relief declaring Coca-Cola's conduct in violation of the DC Consumer Protection Procedures Act (CPPA), an injunction barring conduct that violates the CPPA, and reasonable attorney's fees. The Plaintiff alleged that Coca-Cola had engaged in false and deceptive marketing by representing itself as a "sustainable and environmentally friendly company" despite being one of the world's largest contributors to plastic pollution. Defendant Coca-Cola Co. removed the action from the Superior Court of D.C. to the D.C. District Court. Filed 7/16/21.
Status: On March 24, 2022, the US District Court, District of Columbia granted Earth Island Institute’s motion to remand the case to the Superior Court of D.C. The Court found a lack of diversity jurisdiction.
San Antonio Bay Estuarine Waterkeeper v. Formosa Plastics Corp, No. 6:17-cv-00047 (S.D. Tex. 2017)
Allegations: Plaintiff, citizens group, brought a case against Formosa Plastics Corp. seeking declaratory judgment, monetary relief, and injunctive relief. Plaintiff alleged that plastic pellet nurdles were being illegally dumped into Texas waterways without a permit in violation of permits under the Clean Water Act (CWA). Filed 7/31/2017.
Status: The Court affirmed the Plaintiff claim for declaratory judgment and issued monetary and injunctive relief against the Defendant with a focus on future permit violations. The court also awarded attorney's fees and sanctions for past violations. The parties agreed to a $50 million settlement over the CWA claims. Following the settlement agreement from the case in district court, the parties disagreed over whether Formosa's payment and reporting obligations are triggered only on a "new discharge" of plastics or on "visual detection" of plastics irrespective of when those plastics had actually been discharged from Formosa properties. On March 21, 2022 the US District Court (Southern District of Texas, Victoria Division) rejected Formosa’s request to pause cleanup of waterways, and ruled that the consent decree that was signed mandates that decontamination must continue until decontamination efforts do more harm than good. Previously, the case went to the 5th circuit. San Antonio Bay Estuarine Waterkeeper v. Formosa Plastics Corp., 852 Fed. Appx. 816 (5th Cir. 2021) The case was reversed and remanded for further proceedings. The district court was instructed to reconsider the responsibilities of the Monitor in light of the Court's conclusion that the consent decree, as a whole, contemplated only post-Consent Decree discharges.
Sierra Club v. Coca Cola, No. 4:21-cv-04644 (N.D. Cal. 2021)
Allegations: Plaintiff, environmental group, brought an action against Coca-Cola and BlueTriton Brands, Inc. (formerly Nestle Waters North America, Inc.) seeking injunctive relief precluding the sale of plastic bottled water unless the packaging and marketing are modified to remove "100% Recyclable" from the labeling. The Plaintiff alleged that this marketing is unlawful, unfair, and deceptive business practice in violation of California Public Policy, the California Environmental Marketing Claims Act, and the Federal Trade Commission Green Guides because the bottles are not 100% recyclable due to their material properties. Filed 6/16/21.
Status: On March 8, 2022, the case was consolidated with Swartz v. Coca-Cola (No. 3:21-cv-0463). That case is pending.
Smith v. Keurig Green Mountain, Inc., No. 4:18-cv-06690 (N.D. Cal. 2020)
Allegations: Plaintiff, Kathleen Smith, brought a class action against Keurig Green Mountain, Inc. seeking injunctive relief enjoining Defendants misleading advertising practices and other unlawful conduct, as well as an award for damages to compensate the victims for these practices. The Plaintiff alleged that the Defendant violated California legislatively declared policy against misrepresenting the characteristics of goods and services, violated the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act, and caused damages through reliance on Defendants false representations by falsely labeling their products (single serve coffee pods) as recyclable.
Outcome: The Court granted plaintiff's motion for class certification. On February 24, 2022, the parties filed a settlement agreement, which stated that Keurig cannot label, market, advertise or otherwise represent the cups as recyclable without "clearly and prominently including a revised qualifying statement." Other terms included requirements for the qualifying language, changes to Keurig's website and other advertising, and a $10 million proposed settlement.
Last Beach Cleanup v. Terracycle, Inc., No. RG21090702 (Cal. Super. Ct. 2021)
Allegations: Plaintiff, environmental organization, brought an action against TerraCycle, Inc. and other plastic bottle producers seeking injunctive relief enjoining Defendants' acts of unfair competition and other unlawful practices. The Plaintiff alleged that Defendants violated California Unfair Competition Law, California False Advertising Law, and the Environmental Marketing Claims Act because Defendants advertise, market, and sell products and packaging made from single-use plastics and other materials that are difficult to recycle with an unqualified representation stating that they are recyclable with TerraCycle, Inc. Filed 3/24/21.
Outcome: On November 15, 2021, the parties reached a settlement, with the Defendant agreeing to maintain records substantiating the validity of its recycling representations, agreeing not to license or permit its name to be used on labels or advertising without compliance with the substantiation requirement, and limiting its name to be used for products that are part of an unlimited waste program.
Swartz v. Coca-Cola Co. No. 3:21-cv-04643 (N.D. Cal. 2021)
Allegations: Plaintiffs, David Swartz, Cristina Salgado, and Marcelo Muto, brought a class action against Coca-Cola Co., Bluetriton Brands, Inc., and Niagara Bottling, LLC (plastic bottle producers), seeking an injunction precluding the sale of plastic bottled water, unless the products packaging and marketing are modified to remove 00% recyclable and omitted facts about their recyclability are disclosed. The Plaintiffs were also seeking damages for the difference between the price that consumers paid for the products and the price that they would have paid but for the Defendants' misrepresentations. The Plaintiffs alleged that the Defendants marketing violated California public policy on environmental marketing claims, the Federal Trade Commission Green Guides, and the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act because the 00% Recyclable marketing was false. Filed 6/16/21.
Rosencrants v. Danimer Scientific, Inc., No. 1:21-cv-02708 (E.D.N.Y 2021)
Allegations: Plaintiff, Darryl Keith Rosencrants, brought a securities class action against Danimer Scientific, Inc. (a company that produces a biodegradable plastic alternative) and its officers seeking damages under Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder. The Plaintiff alleged that the Defendant violated federal securities for allegedly making false and misleading statements about the company product, including by overstating the product's biodegradability. Filed 5/14/2021.
Hanscom v. Reylonds Consumer Products Inc., No. 4:21-cv-03434 (N.D. Cal. 2021)
Allegations: Plaintiff, Lisabeth Hanscom, brought a class action against Reynolds Consumer Products Inc. seeking an injunction precluding the sale of Hefty brand Recycling Bags unless defendants modify the packaging and marketing to remove "Recycling" from the labeling and disclose omitted facts regarding their true recyclability. The Plaintiff is further seeking damages for unfair competition and false advertising. The Plaintiff alleged that the Defendant's product marketing constitutes an unfair, unlawful, and deceptive trade practice in violation of the Federal Trade Commission Green Guides for Use of Environmental Marketing Claims and the California Environmental Marketing Claims Act because it is not recyclable and is instead a harmful contaminant that decreases the recyclability of other items. Filed 5/7/2021.
Charleston Waterkeeper v. Frontier Logistics, L.P., No. 2:20-cv-1089 (D.S.C. 2020)
Allegations: Plaintiffs, several local environmental groups, brought an action against Frontier Logistics, L.P. seeking injunctive relief, the imposition of civil penalties, and an award of litigation costs and attorney fees. The Plaintiffs brought two claims under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and the Clean Water Act, alleging that spilled plastic pellets within the Charleston Harbor Watershed were found in the highest concentrations near Defendant facility, resembled those plastic pellets found at Defendant facility, and were comprised of the same material as those handled by the Defendant. Filed 3/20/2020.
Outcome: On March 3rd, 2021, the parties filed a joint motion to dismiss pursuit to a settlement where Frontier Logistics agreed to pay $1.2 million. The settlement money will be used for projects to improve the quality of the Charleston Harbor watershed. It will also allow an independent auditor to visit its new facility and make recommendations on preventing plastic pellets from entering the environment, which Frontier will implement. Previously, the Court denied the Defendant motion to quash, denied the Defendant motion for judgment on the pleadings, and denied the Defendant motion the strike. In a separate opinion, the Court also denied a third party motion to quash and a nonparty motion to stay.