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Public Justice Case Sets CAFA Precedent


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Public Justice Case Sets CAFA Precedent

  1. 1. As the founding owner of Lee J. Rohn and Associates, LLC, Lee J. Rohn represents clients in more than 60 percent of civil cases in St. Croix, Virgin Islands. Additionally, Lee Rohn serves as a board member for Public Justice, an association dedicated to public interest litigation. In May of 2013, Public Justice teamed with Lee Rohn to successfully defend against an appeal to remove a local St. Croix lawsuit from state to federal court, helping to set a notable precedent.
  2. 2. In Abraham v. St. Croix Renaissance Group, 450 St. Croix residents alleged that the defendant, the owner of a local alumina refinery, had failed to properly secure toxic waste. The plaintiffs claimed that Renaissance Group’s storage of toxic industrial by-products over the past decade had caused both property damage and personal injury to St. Croix residents.
  3. 3. In an appeal, the defendant attempted to have the case moved from local to federal court based on stipulations set by the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA). Public Justice Attorney Leah Nicholls joined with the Rohn law firm to successfully argue against this appeal, and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals maintained the District Court’s original ruling that the case should remain in the Virgin Islands.
  4. 4. This ruling broke new ground, as it was the first time a federal court of appeals had ruled on whether CAFA allows a mass environmental tort qualifies as "an event" to be moved to federal court. The decision set forth the opinion that victims of injuries resulting from local matters should have their cases heard and decided in local courts.