Cases

We bring lawsuits in collaboration and alignment with allies across movement sectors to dismantle corporate consolidation of power in the meat industry. Our cases seek to hold bad actors accountable, and empower those harmed by Big Ag, from meatpacking workers put at risk of contracting covid-19 by their employers, to environmental justice communities subjected to land, air, and water contamination from factory-sized operations.

Search below to see briefs and other legal documents filed by Public Justice in Food Project cases:

­­Debt Relief for Farmers of Color

For decades, Black, Indigenous and farmers of color have experienced racial discrimination from the United States Department of Agriculture. Leaders and members of our client organizations, the National Black Farmers Association and Association of American Indian Farmers, have personally endured discrimination such as: bigotry from...

Food & Water Watch v. Smithfield Foods

Food & Water Watch, represented by Public Justice, filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia against Smithfield Foods, alleging that the multinational meat processing company repeatedly lied to consumers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic so it could protect its bottom line—at the...

Buljic v. Tyson Foods, Inc.

Public Justice filed an amicus brief in support of meatpacking workers who died from contracting COVID-19 at a Tyson slaughterhouse in Waterloo, Iowa (Buljic v. Tyson Foods, Inc. and Fernandez v. Tyson Foods, Inc.). The two wrongful death lawsuits were filed in Iowa state court, alleging that...

Sierra Club v. Walnutdale

Everybody has the right to clean water. Yet for the neighbors of industrial agriculture operations like Walnutdale Farms in Michigan, this right is unrealized. That is why the Public Justice Food Project represented the Sierra Club in an enforcement action alongside the Environmental Protection Agency...

McKiver v. Murphy-Brown

Hundreds of mostly Black and brown community members in Eastern North Carolina won a series of mass action lawsuits against Smithfield for the public nuisance caused by factory hog farms. It was a historic victory. Smithfield’s farms produce copious amounts of animal waste, burdening neighbors...

Maid-Rite (Justice at Work v. Sec. of Labor Eugene Scalia)

Public Justice, Towards Justice, Nichols Kaster, and Justice at Work filed a lawsuit in the Middle District of Pennsylvania against Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia for failing to compel a slaughterhouse to protect its workers from contracting COVID-19. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)...

Food Chain Workers Alliance v. Tyson Foods Title VI Complaint

A nationwide coalition of organizations that advocate for meat processing workers and allied groups filed an administrative civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture alleging that in addition to being disastrous for the wellbeing of workers and for public health, two major meat...

Arkansas Ag-Gag

Arkansas’ Ag-Gag statute is modeled after the North Carolina statute, but it makes a few tweaks to try to protect it from being overturned as unconstitutional. The Arkansas Ag-Gag law provides an employer liquidated damages against any person who “exceeds the[ir] authority” in a “nonpublic...

RCWA & Jane Doe v. Smithfield

With food chain workers being deemed “essential,” but allowed to fall ill, workers at Smithfield’s pork processing plant in Milan, Missouri are taking legal action to secure basic protective equipment and protocol changes that will stop the spread of COVID-19 in the plant and the surrounding...

Iowa Ag-Gag II (ALDF v. Reynolds)

Iowa’s second effort to prevent journalists or activists from entering livestock facilities under false pretenses to report on animal abuse was passed and signed into law just two months after U.S. District Judge James Gritzner ruled that Iowa’s law passed in 2012 violated the First...

Iowa Ag-Gag I (ALDF, et al. v. Reynolds, et al.)

Public Justice serves as co-counsel in a challenge to Iowa’s first Ag-Gag law, which criminalizes undercover investigations at factory farms and slaughterhouses. This statute made it a crime to gain access to, or employment at, such a facility under false pretenses. The U.S. District Court for the Southern...

Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Hormel

Public Justice, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, and the Richman Law Group filed a joint lawsuit in the District of Columbia Superior Court against Hormel Foods, alleging the company is misleading consumers through the advertising of its Natural Choice® brand of lunch meats and bacon....

Dakota Rural Action v. USDA

A coalition of groups representing family farmers, sustainable agriculture advocates and concerned citizens throughout the country filed suit against the United States Department of Agriculture. The suit aims to stop a USDA policy allowing industrial agriculture facilities to set up operations in communities without undergoing...

Center for Biological Diversity v. Swift Beef

Public Justice represented the Center for Biological Diversity and Food & Water Watch in a lawsuit against JBS-Swift Beef Company to stop illegal discharges of slaughterhouse pollution into Colorado’s South Platte River. The Lone Tree Wastewater Treatment Plant in Greeley receives up to 4 million...

Utah Ag-gag (Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Herbert)

Amici brief in constitutional challenge to a Utah statute that criminalizes core whistleblowing activity in the farmed animal agricultural industry—in particular, slaughterhouses, meat processing plants, and factory farms. The law at issue—enacted by the state of Utah in 2012—makes it a crime to “interfere” with any...

Beef Checkoff Case (R-CALF USA v. Perdue)

We are lead counsel on behalf of the nation’s largest organization of independent cattle producers, R-CALF USA, in a suit raising a First Amendment challenge to the administration of the beef checkoff in Montana. We are arguing that although the federal government mandates all ranchers pay...

Indiana Right to Farm

Like many other states, Indiana has a “Right-to-Farm” statute, meant to codify the coming to the nuisance doctrine—so city-dwellers cannot move to rural lands and demand farms change their operations. Corporate agribusiness has, however, been pushing efforts to expand the scope of these laws to...

Western Watershed Project et al v. Peter Michael

This case is a federal constitutional challenge to two newly enacted Wyoming statutes (the “Data Laws”) that are designed to prevent the public from gathering “resource data” on public or private “open land” in the State of Wyoming. See W.S. 6-3-414 (criminal statute) and W.S....

Morris v. Tyson

The Public Justice Food Project represents a mass action of poultry growers in Western Kentucky who raise poultry for Tyson, the nation’s largest poultry company. Tyson acts as an “integrator,” controlling all of the inputs used by its poultry growers—such as the birds, feed, and...

North Carolina Ag-Gag / PETA et al v. Stein (formerly Cooper) et al.

Public Justice is lead counsel on behalf of a coalition of public interest groups in a constitutional challenge to North Carolina’s “Anti-Sunshine” law—a statute that, like Ag-Gag laws, allows employers and property owners to sue undercover investigators who wish to blow the whistle on unethical or...

Idaho Ag-Gag

In recent years, more and more state legislatures have – at the urging of lobbyists representing factory farm operations and industrial food producers – taken up “Ag Gag” laws that shroud mega-farms in secrecy and make holding them accountable for pollution, unsafe working conditions and...

Mountaire

“For years, I’ve been trying to figure out what was the cause of my son dying of an asthma attack. They’re saying it’s going to cost millions and millions and millions of dollars to fix the problem. . . . They let it go on...

Blackwood v. N&M Dairy

N&M Dairy was a multi-thousand cow dairy that the dumped millions of gallons of waste produced annually in surrounding open fields and earthen lagoons. The government and N&M Dairy consultants themselves warned N&M that its actions were killing crops and poisoning groundwater. Toxic nitrates seeped...

Fact Sheets

Find documents and resources produced by the Public Justice Food Project, as well as other organizations fighting for communities negatively impacted by industrial animal agriculture.

Country-of-Origin Labeling (R-CALF USA v. Perdue)

Public Justice served as lead counsel representing the nation’s largest organization of independent cattle producers, R-CALF USA, and the Cattle Producers of Washington, in a suit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The suit alleged that USDA regulations enacted in 2016 that allow beef and...

Quesada v. Herb Thyme Farms

In this consumer class action, the plaintiffs alleged that Herb Thyme Farms, Inc. deliberately mixed organic herbs with non-organic herbs and sold them to the public as “100% organic.” Herb Thyme argued that the consumers’ state law claims were preempted by federal law governing certification...