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Li Guixin Suit against Shijiazhuang Environmental protection Bureau Carrying out Statutory Duty and Compensaton loss
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Li Guixin Suit against Shijiazhuang Environmental protection Bureau Carrying out Statutory Duty and Compensaton loss

Receiver of aid: Li Guixin, male, Shijiazhuang City, Xinhua district

Defendant: Shijiazhuang Environmental Protection Bureau


Case Details:

The plaintiff is a resident of Shijiazhuang, Xinhua district. Since 1996 he has lived and worked in Shijiazhuang. When Shijiazhuang¡¯s air quality was tolerable, he bought a car in 2004 as a means of transportation; he often exercised outside, making his spirit rich and mind at ease.

But, seemingly out of nowhere, Shijiazhuang¡¯s air quality suddenly worsened. Following the defendant¡¯s website (http://www.sjzhb.gov.cn/) data announcements, in 2013 Shijiazhuang¡¯s average pollution index was 247, in the range of severe pollution; there was not a single day in the entire year with superior air quality. There were 33 days with tolerable air quality, 9.04% of the whole year; There were 332 days above the third level of pollution, making up 90.96% of the whole year; there were 102 days above the 5th level of severe pollution, 27.95% of the whole year. Following the country¡¯s Environmental Protection Bureau¡¯s website (http://sepa.gov.cn/) announcement data, starting from February 2012, Shijiazhuang¡¯s pollution is continuously above the 300 level, constituting severe air pollution.

Thus, the plaintif bought an air filter and put it inside his room specifically to clean the air; he bought a pollution prevention face mask to use when he walked outside; because car traffic was restricted, the plaintiff had no choice but to leave his car idle and take a taxi or bus to work. Because he couldn¡¯t do outdoor activities, the plaintiff bought a treadmill for his room and could only exercise inside. Unable to avoid the air pollution, the plaintiff began to feel uncomfortable in his lungs and trachea. He often coughed, and had to frequently go to the hospital to see the doctor. Because Shijiazhuang was already one of the world¡¯s most unsuitable cities to live in, the plaintiff planned to move from Shijiazhuang to another city. But because Shijiazhuang¡¯s pollution index is world reknowned, the housing prices have taken a huge impact.

The plaintiff believed that the defendant to be the Shijiazhuang Environmental Protection Bureau¡¯s Manager of Administrative Authority, responsible for the protection of environmental air but failed to prevent pollution. The defendant believed the defendant was the one responsible for allowing Shijiazhuang residents to breathe the filthy air. But, the defendant could not or did not carry out its duty, making the air quality in Shijiazhuang worsen, especially in the past 10 years, resulting in the plaintiff¡¯s economic losses and resulting inconveiences in his life. Thus, he brought a case towards the court, firstly requesting the defendant fulfill, according to law, its responsibility to control the air pollution; second, undertaking 10,000 yuan to compensate the plaintiff for his economic losses; third, the defendant should bear the plaintiff¡¯s financial cost of the lawsuit.

On February 26, 2014, the Center for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims received Li Guixin¡¯s aid request. Appointed lawyer Dai Renhui provided legal aid. Dai Renhui answered the administrative litigation, as responsibility for violation of legal rights and related legal regulations. He communicated continuously with Li Guixin. And informed him that as long as he perservered, the center would help him fight to the finish of the lawsuit. After this, they communicated with ¡°Nanfang City News,¡± ¡°Democracy and Law¡± and similar media to report on this case. Unfortunately, Li Guixin withdrew his case from the court.


Significance:

  1. Many people complain about the resulting threat to health that the smog brings, and people often complain about the Environmental Protection Bureau not fulfilling its duties, but there has never been a person to use legal methods to make the Environmental Protection Bureau carry out its responsibilities. Also, Li Guixin, as the first person to do so, deserves our utmost admiration. This case, in which the Environmental Protection Bureau was the defendant, created a new path for claiming damages and probing violated environmental rights of unseen victims. Furthermore, it sounded the alarm on environmental administrators, so that when administrators¡¯ environment results in citizens¡¯ losses, citizens can file a lawsuit. While everyone knows the harms of the smog, they need to act and give the government pressure, to ensure that it carries out its supervising duties.

  2. The air quality is severely worsening, with a vast array of citizens as victims, who have the right to guarantee the right to a healthy life through effective judicial paths and to supervise related administrative authorities¡¯ effective conduct. This case has been called ¡°The First Case of Citizen Protest against Smog.¡± We need this case as the first of its kind in the entire country, because the government has not effectively fulfilled its duties, resulting in air pollution. After the infringement of a citizen¡¯s rights to life and property, it is natural for one to personally request that the government fulfill its duties. In these administrative cases, which advocate for the right to compensation from the government for losses, there is a clear public interest. This is a typical environmental administrative public good litigation case. Although it did not enter into the case procedings, this case propelled the government¡¯s environmental law process forward. It aroused the public¡¯s attention to the protection of their own environmental benefits through the inevitably long journey of landmark case leads and motivating actions. In particular, the case was significant for urging the government to strictly uphold its duties and change its role so that it has a much greater significance.

Copyright: Center for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims