March 27, 2009
Citizen civil actions under HR 875 (Food Safety Modernization Act)
Under section 409 of the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009, HR 875 (blogged here), individuals would have a cause of action directly against those in violation of a food safety regulation, order, or other action. A commenter on our earlier post brought this to my attention. Noting the high cost of litigation "Mark" writes:
This will open the door for extremist groups to file dozens of malicious federal law suits against big and small entities, including small organic meat and vegetable producers, which could destroy the food supply system.
Thanks for the comment!
Here's the provision in question:
SEC. 409. CITIZEN CIVIL ACTIONS.
(a) Civil Actions- A person may commence a civil action against--
(1) a person that violates a regulation (including a regulation establishing a performance standard), order, or other action of the Administrator to ensure the safety of food; or
(2) the Administrator (in his or her capacity as the Administrator), if the Administrator fails to perform an act or duty to ensure the safety of food that is not discretionary under the food safety law.
(b) Court- In an action commenced under this section:
(1) IN GENERAL- The action shall be commenced--
(A) in the case of a civil action against a person, the United States district court for the district in which the defendant resides, is found, or has an agent; and
(B) in the case of a civil action against the Administrator, any United States district court.
(2) JURISDICTION- The court shall have jurisdiction, without regard to the amount in controversy, or the citizenship of the parties, to enforce a regulation (including a regulation establishing a performance standard), order, or other action of the Administrator, or to order the Administrator to perform the act or duty.
(3) DAMAGES- The court may--
(A) award damages, in the amount of damages actually sustained; and
(B) if the court determines it to be in the interest of justice, award the plaintiff the costs of suit, including reasonable attorney’s fees, reasonable expert witness fees, and penalties.
(c) Remedies Not Exclusive- The remedies provided for in this section shall be in addition to, and not exclusive of, other remedies that may be available.
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