Description: Lawsuit alleging that the permitting of fossil fuel infrastructure by Virginia and Virginia agencies and officials violated youth plaintiffs' rights under the Virginia Constitution.
Layla H. v. Commonwealth
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 09/16/2022 Press Release Download Case dismissed. Virginia Court Dismissed Youth Plaintiffs’ Climate Case on Sovereign Immunity Grounds. A Virginia trial court dismissed a lawsuit brought by youth plaintiffs who alleged that the Commonwealth of Virginia’s permitting of fossil fuel development and infrastructure violated their common law public trust rights and substantive due process rights under the Virginia constitution. As reported by the AP, the court ruled from the bench and dismissed the case on sovereign immunity grounds. The plaintiffs said they would appeal the decision. 02/09/2022 Complaint Download Complaint filed. Youth Plaintiffs Filed Case Alleging Virginia’s Fossil Fuel Permitting Violated Public Trust and Substantive Due Process Rights. Youth plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in Virginia state court against the Commonwealth of Virginia and state agencies and officials alleging that the defendants’ permitting of fossil fuel infrastructure caused and contributed to the climate crisis and caused injuries to the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs asserted that the Virginia Gas and Oil Act’s directive requiring that the Virginia Department of Energy maximize exploration, development, production, recovery, and utilization of Virginia’s fossil fuel resources substantially impaired the plaintiffs’ constitutional and common law jus publicum (i.e., public trust doctrine) rights and violated their substantive due process rights under the Virginia constitution. The complaint also asserted that the defendants’ “historic and ongoing policy and practice of exercising their statutory discretion in such a manner as to favor the permitting of fossil fuel infrastructure projects” substantially impaired the plaintiffs’ jus publicum rights and violated their substantive due process rights. The plaintiffs sought a declaratory judgment, as well as in injunctive relief, “[i]f necessary and proper.” They contended that a declaratory judgment would have “immediate practical consequences” and “provide meaningful redress” because the defendants would “abide by any declaratory judgment order and bring their policy and practice of approving permits for fossil fuel infrastructure into constitutional compliance.”