Stetson Law alumni, student, professor, assist in drafting complaint against governor on behalf of climate activists, Florida youth

(L-R): Rachael Curran, Professor Long, Brittany Atwell and Katie Bright.

(L-R): Rachael Curran, Professor Long, Brittany Atwell and Katie Bright.

Two Stetson University College of Law alumni, Katie Cleveland Bright J.D. ’15 and Rachael Curran J.D. ’17, and third-year law student Brittany Atwell worked with Professor of Law Lance Long to provide research and assist in drafting a complaint on behalf of eight Florida youth, climate activists Delaney Reynolds and Levi Draheim, against the state of Florida, Governor Rick Scott, and several agencies in Leon County Court.

The lawsuit alleges that Florida government has statutory, public trust, and constitutional obligations to protect essential natural resources, including the atmosphere, for present and future generations. The nonprofit organization Our Children’s Trust supports the youth in filing the case, Reynolds v. State of Florida.

“This complaint is important because it is one of the first times that Florida citizens have sought relief in the courts based on the public trust provisions of the Florida Constitution,” said Professor Long. “Florida’s executive and legislative branches have failed to fulfill their Constitutional obligations to hold Florida’s natural resources in trust for the benefit of current and future generations; this failure is properly redressed through the courts.”

The plaintiffs argue that the defendants have violated and continue to violate the Florida Constitution by breaching duties to protect Public Trust Resources and by denying the youth their fundamental rights to liberty, pursuit of happiness, and property, including human habitation and personal and economic health, safety and wellbeing.

Professor Long teaches a course on Environmental Advocacy at Stetson. Bright most recently worked as staff attorney with the Ocean Conservancy in Portland, Oregon. Curran is a staff attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity.

To read more about the lawsuit, please visit the Miami Herald.