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Case Name North Carolina Environmental Justice Network v. Taylor EJ-NC-0001
Docket / Court 4:12-cv-154 ( E.D.N.C. )
State/Territory North Carolina
Case Type(s) Environmental Justice
Case Summary
On July 27, 2012, the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network (NCEJN), the Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation, and the Waterkeeper Alliance filed this complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. The plaintiffs alleged that the Taylor Finishing Company, a swine ... read more >
On July 27, 2012, the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network (NCEJN), the Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation, and the Waterkeeper Alliance filed this complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. The plaintiffs alleged that the Taylor Finishing Company, a swine concentrated animal feeding operation, illegally polluted under the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and that this pollution endangered human health and the environment. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, sought declaratory and injunctive relief as well as attorneys’ fees and costs. The case was assigned to Judge James C. Dever III and Magistrate Judge James E. Gates.

The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants had violated the CWA and RCRA by causing the release of pollutants, including nitrogen, phosphorus, and bacteria, onto the lands and into waters surrounding defendants’ facilities near the Neuse River Basin. The complaint described that defendants caused illegal discharges of pollutants without a permit, illegal open dumping of swine waste, and illegal treatment, storage, and disposal of swine waste. The plaintiffs argued that this disregard for disposal requirements created an imminent and substantial endangerment to human health and the environment.

Between September and November of 2013, the three defendants filed motions to dismiss the complaint claiming that this court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because the plaintiff failed to serve a proper notice of intent to sue prior to filing the complaint. But before the motions were decided, on April 25, 2013, the plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint. The defendants filed responsive motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim on which relief could be granted. On August 26, 2013, Judge Dever denied the motion and the parties proceeded to discovery.

On October 21, 2014, the NCEJN filed a stipulation of dismissal, asking that the court dismiss the claims with prejudice and that each party bear their own costs. The court granted this motion later that month.

On November 21, 2014, the remaining defendants moved for summary judgment, claiming that the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring the claim due to insufficient evidence and the undisputed fact that none of the plaintiffs had suffered an injury that could be causally connected to the defendants’ conduct. On that same day, one of the defendants moved for summary judgment of count three of the second amended complaint, claiming that the plaintiffs could not establish that there was an imminent and substantial endangerment to health or the environment caused by the defendant. Additionally, another defendant filed a similar motion for summary judgment, even asking that the court enter judgment in their favor on the grounds that there were no genuine issues of material fact and they were entitled to judgment in their favor as a matter of law.

On January 14, 2015, Judge Gates entered a report and recommendation with the court, recommending that the court deny without prejudice the three pending motions for summary judgment. 2015 WL 1630602. On April 13, 2015, Judge Dever agreed with Judge Gates and denied the motions without prejudice. 2015 WL 1880200.

Then, defendants filed a notice of bankruptcy with the court and on June 3, 2015, the court entered an order staying the action pending resolution of the bankruptcy case. After the stay, negotiations took place and on June 29, 2018, the plaintiffs filed a notice of a proposed consent decree. The agreement required that the contaminated lagoon be inspected annually and that the defendants remove sludge from the lagoon. The parties agreed to seek enforcement of the terms in bankruptcy court so the court would not retain jurisdiction over the matter.

On August 13, 2018, the court approved the consent decree. The parties subsequently filed a stipulation to a voluntary dismissal of the case. As of September 13, the case had not yet closed.

Jake Parker - 07/20/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
General
Pattern or Practice
Sanitation / living conditions
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Causes of Action Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) Taylor Finishing Company
Plaintiff Description The North Carolina Environmental Justice Network, the Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation, Inc., and the Waterkeeper Alliance, Inc.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Filing Year 2012
Case Closing Year 2018
Case Ongoing Yes
Docket(s)
4:12-cv-154 (E.D.N.C.)
EJ-NC-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/25/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint and Jury Demand [ECF# 1]
EJ-NC-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/27/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Second Amended Complaint and Jury Demand [ECF# 65]
EJ-NC-0001-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/25/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order and Memorandum and Recommendation [ECF# 148] (2015 WL 1630602) (E.D.N.C.)
EJ-NC-0001-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 01/14/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 159] (2015 WL 1880200) (E.D.N.C.)
EJ-NC-0001-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 04/13/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Notice of Lodging of Proposed Consent Decree [ECF# 166]
EJ-NC-0001-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/29/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Re: N.C. Environmental Justice Network et al. v. Taylor [ECF# 167]
EJ-NC-0001-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/25/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Dever, James C. III (E.D.N.C.)
EJ-NC-0001-0004 | EJ-NC-0001-9000
Gates, James E. (E.D.N.C.) [Magistrate]
EJ-NC-0001-0003
Plaintiff's Lawyers Barnashuk, Kimberly R. (New York)
EJ-NC-0001-0001
Caffery, Lee Knight (North Carolina)
EJ-NC-0001-0002 | EJ-NC-0001-9000
Dike-Minor, Chinelo E. (New York)
EJ-NC-0001-0001 | EJ-NC-0001-9000
Foster, Kelly H. (Oklahoma)
EJ-NC-0001-0001 | EJ-NC-0001-0002 | EJ-NC-0001-9000
Green, Stanley B. (North Carolina)
EJ-NC-0001-0001 | EJ-NC-0001-0002 | EJ-NC-0001-0006 | EJ-NC-0001-9000
Jernigan, Robert Gray (North Carolina)
EJ-NC-0001-9000
Leigh, Michael T. (New York)
EJ-NC-0001-0001 | EJ-NC-0001-0002 | EJ-NC-0001-9000
Noll, Bethany Davis (New York)
EJ-NC-0001-0001 | EJ-NC-0001-9000
Skrzypczyk, Johanna N. (New York)
EJ-NC-0001-0002 | EJ-NC-0001-9000
Turner, Frederick H. (District of Columbia)
EJ-NC-0001-0005
Defendant's Lawyers Eglinton, Donalt J. (North Carolina)
EJ-NC-0001-9000
Haidt, David J. (North Carolina)
EJ-NC-0001-0006
King, John William Jr. (North Carolina)
EJ-NC-0001-9000
Sheffield, Frank H. Jr. (North Carolina)
EJ-NC-0001-9000
Simonsen, Lars P. (North Carolina)
EJ-NC-0001-9000
Wang, Amy P. (North Carolina)
EJ-NC-0001-9000

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