lady justice

Hi Lucy,

This month, we’re excited to introduce supporters to our newly elected President, Tom Sobol. Since the beginning of his term, Tom has been working on bringing Public Justice’s strategic vision to life, and articulating his own vision for how we can work together to live up to the ideals, commitments and values that are the foundation of the organization and the staff and Board teams that help bring our work to life. Earlier this month, he sat down with Public Justice’s Director of Media Relations, Karen Ocamb, to talk about what has shaped him as an attorney, and what he hopes to achieve as President of Public Justice.

We also have some significant wins to share on behalf of the First (and Eighth!) Amendments, Amazon workers, and students.

Thank you from all of us,
The Public Justice Team

Welcoming Our New President Tom Sobol

At our 40th Anniversary Annual Gala in July, Public Justice welcomed incoming President Tom Sobol.

Tom recently spoke with our Media Relations Director Karen Ocamb on what he hopes to accomplish while at the helm of Public Justice, as well as his ongoing work fighting profits-over-people practices at pharmaceutical companies. “Earlier this year, the board of Public Justice voted approval of a strategic direction document. I see this strategic document as constitutional to this organization. And as president, it is my job to see that the board delivers on this promise.”

Click here to read Tom Sobol's profile

Iowa’s Ag-Gag Law Found Unconstitutional…Again

Late last month, we celebrated an exciting win in our ongoing fight against Iowa’s unconstitutional Ag-Gag laws. For the third time, a court has ruled that the state of Iowa’s attempt to bury undercover investigations into its agribusiness sector is unconstitutional. The Iowa law created a new crime of trespassing to engage in video and audio recording, gagging free speech by criminalizing undercover investigations at animal facilities.

In the absence of meaningful federal laws regulating factory farms, undercover investigations have played a critical role in educating the public about the conditions under which their food is produced. These conditions affect the animals and the workers. 

“The ability to investigate and document how our food is made is critical in ensuring a just and transparent food system that holds companies and government institutions accountable,” says Public Justice Food Project Litigation Director David Muraskin. “This victory is important for Iowa workers who are placed in dangerous and unsafe workplace conditions and are now protected under the First Amendment to record evidence of these practices.”

Among other things, we successfully argued that Iowa’s latest ag-gag law was both over- and under-inclusive, meaning the law placed unnecessary burdens on speech that did not actually advance government interests (overinclusive), nor did it regulate the full breadth of activities responsible for the so-called harm it was intended to stop (underinclusive). In this case, the defendants could not prove that targeting covert recording activity advances governmental interests any better than existing trespass laws, and they did not produce an explanation for the law’s single-minded focus on recording equipment but not other ways of transmitting private information. We’re proud to join the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), Iowa CCI, Bailing Out Benji, Food and Water Watch, and PETA in our ongoing fight to ensure transparency and accountability in our food system. 

Click here to read ALDF's press release
Click here to read AP News story about this case

A Victory for Amazon Workers!

On October 18, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals correctly rejected a district court’s earlier dismissal of a worker-filed legal action against Amazon, upholding the workers’ right to move forward in court to ensure a safe workplace. In 2020, our clients filed their case on behalf of all workers at JFK8, Amazon's Staten Island fulfillment center.

Working conditions in the warehouse failed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within the facility and beyond. A district court initially dismissed the suit, reasoning in part that these serious safety claims could only be taken up with the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA)--not the courts. We believed this was an incorrect and concerning deference to OSHA, which has failed to regulate corporations and take action against unsafe workplace conditions during the pandemic. Although the 2nd District ruled for Amazon on some issues, it also held that OSHA does not have primary jurisdiction on these matters and courts are well-suited to evaluate the facts of this case.

We are part of a dedicated team representing these Amazon workers and their families who are fighting for better working conditions. The other members of this team are Make the Road New York, Terrell Marshall Law Group, and Towards Justice.

Click here to learn more about this case

Public Justice Case Against Philadelphia School District Will Proceed

Public Justice serves as co-counsel in this suit that seeks to hold Philadelphia’s North Penn School District accountable for its failure to appropriately respond to repeated student-on-student sexual assaults.

Late last week, a federal district court denied North Penn School District’s motion for summary judgment in Jane Doe v. North Penn School District, rejecting the District’s attempt to dismiss student plaintiff Jane Doe’s case in its entirety. This is a big win for abuse and harassment survivors harmed by their schools, but especially for Ms. Doe, whose education was completely derailed by the District’s numerous failures. 

“I would give North Penn School District an ‘F’ on fulfilling its obligation to ensure its students can receive their education free from sexual harassment,” said Adele Kimmel, co-counsel for Jane Doe and Public Justice’s Students’ Civil Rights Project Director. “We are pleased that the court’s ruling gives Jane an opportunity to expose how badly North Penn failed her and how its lack of sexual harassment training endangers other students.”

Click here to read the press release

Court Rules Oregon City’s Fines on Unhoused Residents Violate the 8th Amendment

Late last month, the Ninth Circuit found that an Oregon city’s attempts to fine unhoused individuals for sleeping outdoors were unconstitutional. We filed an amicus brief arguing that any fine imposed on unhoused individuals for conduct directly stemming from homelessness would violate the Excessive Fines Clause of the 8th Amendment. Learn more about how our Debtors’ Prison Project is using the Excessive Fines Clause as a tool to fight unfair fines, fees, and the criminalization of poverty. 

Thank You to Our Executive Circle Members!

We’re pleased to offer a three-tiered engagement program for our business community supporters. Public Justice Executive Circle members are eligible for a variety of marketing opportunities with an expansive network of the top plaintiffs’ lawyers and justice advocates in the country, in addition to other benefits.

Interested in joining? Learn more about Public Justice’s Executive Circle on our website, and contact Senior Development Director Kelly Simon at or (202) 861-5253 for more information.


We’re incredibly grateful to our current Executive Circle members who provide critical support in our fight for economic, social, and environmental justice:

Gold Level

  • AB Data
  • Epiq
  • Huntington Bank
  • Kroll Settlement Administration
  • Western Alliance Bank

Silver Level

  • Advocate Capital
  • Angeion Group
  • Broughton Partners
  • Expert Institute
  • JND Legal Administration
  • Modus
  • Rubttal PR
  • Rust Consulting and Kinsella Media
  • Top Class Actions

Bronze Level

  • Lexitas
  • Milestone Consulting
  • Mustang Litigation Funding
  • Reach LawTech

Working With Our Allies

This month, we were proud to join our allies to urge the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to ban medical debt from credit reports, and ask the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to enact strong protections for auto buyers. Click the links below to read each letter and visit our Endorsements page to learn more.

Staff Speaking Events

Leah Nicholls

November 11

Presenter: Standing to Sue After Ramirez (NCLC Consumer Rights Litigation Conference)

November 12

Presenter: Fighting Secrecy in Civil Litigation (NCLC Consumer Rights Litigation Conference)

Karla Gilbride

November 9

Panelist: Class Action Appeals: Best Practices for Plaintiffs in Appeals in Antitrust and Other Class Actions (16th Annual Private Antitrust Enforcement Conference)

November 11

Panelist: Update on Arbitration-Related Court Decisions and Awards (16th Annual Section of Labor and Employment Law Conference)

1200px-Bloomberg_Law_Logo image

Lopsided Fee-Shifting Provisions Cross Ideological Divides

“I am really unsympathetic to the gun companies. Having said that, I really hate the approach of a law or a contract that is set up in such a way to try to make it impossible for somebody to bring a case when they think their rights are violated. It’s a really dangerous approach to the law."

Executive Director Paul Bland

Click here to read on Bloomberg Law
logo-patch-800x600 image

US Supreme Court Filing Backs Ex-Fairfax Student's Title IX Lawsuit

"We are grateful that the United States has opposed the school board’s petition for the Supreme Court to take up Jane Doe’s case. [F]airfax’s extreme positions are legally wrong and would gut survivors’ civil rights. That's why no court of appeals has adopted the interpretation of high school students' Title IX rights that Fairfax asks the Supreme Court to adopt."

Students' Civil Rights Project Staff Attorney Alexandra Brodsky

Click here to read on Patch

Public Justice welcomes this month's new members — your unwavering commitment to our mission of combating injustice helps us reach our goals.

Support our work by joining today!

Questions? Contact us here.

Facebook  Twitter  Linkedin  Instagram  Youtube