June 01, 2015

Sue and Settle: Citizen Suit Settlements and Environmental Law

Janette L. Ferguson and Laura Granier

Sue and settle is a phrase coined to describe lawsuits that are filed and then settled, by voluntary consent decree or settlement agreement, before the action progresses on the merits. An emerging debate exists as to whether sue and settle lawsuits serve as a legitimate means to ensure compliance with federal environmental statutes and regulations or as an abusive tactic to circumvent or shortcut rulemaking processes, limit state and industry participation, and dictate policy. Either way, these lawsuits impact federal environmental law and policy and are increasingly contested in litigation and through legislative initiative.

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