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  • Commonwealth Court Dismisses Clean Air Council Lawsuit Commonwealth Court Dismisses Clean Air Council Lawsuit

    We're kicking off the New Year with tremendous news. On January 5, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania dismissed the Clean Air Council (CAC) lawsuit that threatened to mandate accelerated adoption of all model building codes, including the mandate for fire sprinklers in all homes. PBA's arguments were instrumental in defeating this frivolous suit.

    Technically, the Court dismissed the case without prejudice. That means that the CAC could refile the case with the Commonwealth Court if the CAC can allege new facts or theories of law that would establish standing. Alternatively, the CAC can appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Nevertheless, barring a successful appeal, the dismissal all but shuts the door on the bulk of the CAC's claims.

    Although the lawsuit was dismissed without prejudice, the court's language didn't display any appetite to taste this matter again. (If you wish to read it, you can find the Court's full opinion here -Memorandum Opinion CAC Dismissal.) Near the end of its opinion, the Court stated (emphasis added):

    [T]he causal chain alleged by CAC in support of its challenge is premised upon a dizzying array of actions taken or not taken by governmental and nongovernmental actors once RAC issued its recommendation pursuant to the PCCA, and presumably each time RAC issues a recommendation in the future, which may impact actions taken or not taken by CAC members. These allegations are simply far too remote to satisfy even a relaxed standard of causation maintained to ensure that the most injurious and widespread government actions can be questioned by the citizens of this Commonwealth

    PBA's Efforts Contribute to a Big Win against Environmental Group

    From the beginning, PBA engaged in a furious litigation and fundraising effort to defeat the suit. First, PBA had to gain specific approval from the Court in order to intervene in the lawsuit. PBA was not a party to the original claim. We genuinely feared that the state agencies might settle the case in a manner that hopelessly disadvantaged residential construction. 

    Without PBA's effort to intervene, the Court would never have heard the position of PBA's members. Second, led by PBA's Governmental Affairs leadership, PBA built a war chest to fight this battle on behalf of the members. The generous donations of PBA members and industry friends made this win possible. Litigation is never cheap. Without your contributions, PBA may have struggled to fight this case.

    Let's savor this victory. Thanks go out to all those who contributed to the PBA's litigation efforts without your financial support the outcome of this decision could have been very different.  

    Pennsylvania Home Builders are the only advocates that consumers can trust to safeguard the integrity and cost effectiveness of the construction code.  PBA has long been the voice of the residential housing industry and with your continued support stands prepared to keep fighting these ongoing legal battles.  

    Background

    Nearly eighteen months ago an environmental group based in Philadelphia, the Clean Air Council, filed suit alleging that Pennsylvania's construction code adoption structure and process violated the law. The CAC's complaint raised multiple issues including a claim that "Act 1," which created the current codes structure, was legally faulty. 

    Act 1 (adopted in 2011) was entirely the product of the PBA's successful lobbying efforts. Among other things, the 2011 legislation removed the residential sprinkler mandate from the code governing most dwellings and established the current RAC procedures

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