Case Detail

United States v. San Diego Gas & Electric Co.
On March 17, 2009, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld a ruling that granted a new criminal trial to a public utility, an employee, and a contractor, each of whom was convicted of technical violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA) for removing pipe wrap that contained a small amount of asbestos. The decision was a victory for WLF, which filed a brief urging a new trial. WLF argued that the government abused its discretion by resorting to a felony criminal prosecution for an alleged technical infraction when there were more suitable non-criminal remedies available. The CAA regulations at issue apply to the removal of pipe wrapping containing more than 1% asbestos. The district court ordered a new trial because it had serious doubts about the accuracy of government tests that purported to demonstrate that the 1% threshold had been met. The appeals court affirmed the decision granting a new trial, agreeing with WLF that the district court's doubts were well founded.
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11/7/2008: Download the Brief

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