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Accomplishments

1979

  • Public Citizen petition leads to EPA ban on use of DBCP, a pesticide proven to cause sterility in men.
  • Public Citizen organizes national “Dollars Without Strings” campaign, with more than 10,000 citizens participating, to dramatize need for limits on PAC contributions.
  • Public Citizen helps defeat legislation raising sugar price supports, thereby saving consumers $300 million a year.
  • Public Citizen exposes history of safety problems at Three Mile Island reactor after nation’s worst nuclear accident.
  • Public Citizen wins landmark case in New York, striking down residency requirements preventing lawyers from working in the state; allowing greater competition.
  • Public Citizen publishes first of its kind directory called Cutting Prices: A Guide to Washington Area Surgeons’ Fees, listing fees by named surgeons for 12 common surgical procedures in Washington area.

1978

  • Congress passes Public Citizen’s National Consumer Cooperative Bill authorizing $300 million in seed money for consumer cooperatives.
  • Public Citizen files class action suit on behalf of 1,100 women who were given the drug DES (which increases risk of breast cancer) without their knowledge in 1950s as part of a University of Chicago medical experiment.
  • Public Citizen publishes first edition of Getting Yours: A Consumer’s Guide to Obtaining Your Medical Records to help consumers gain access to their health records.
  • Public Citizen is instrumental in stopping the spraying of DDT in airline passenger cabins to control Japanese beetles on California-bound flights.
  • Public Citizen helps defeat legislation exempting millions of small business employees from OSHA protections.
  • Public Citizen issues report on health and safety violations at Central Intelligence Agency, suggesting CIA may be hazardous to its employees’ health.
  • Public Citizen wins court case in Maryland permitting publication of a magazine offering detailed real estate listings so consumers can buy and sell houses without using real estate brokers.
  • Public Citizen helps force OSHA to limit worker exposure to lead and pesticide DBCP.

1977

  • Public Citizen mobilizes citizens who persuade President Carter to halt construction of Clinch River breeder reactor.
  • FDA bans diabetes drug Phenformin, linked to hundreds of deaths each year, after Public Citizen petition and lawsuit.
  • Public Citizen sues FDA to ban 32 provisionally approved food, drug and cosmetic dyes, including two carcinogens, seven suspected carcinogens and two allergens.
  • Public Citizen petitions OSHA for workers’ rights to know the names of chemicals with which they work and to call for OSHA inspections of workplaces.

1976

  • FDA bans Red Dye No. 2 after Public Citizen’s four-year campaign against the carcinogenic food dye.
  • Public Citizen wins landmark Supreme Court ruling that First Amendment applies to commercial speech, overturning a Virginia law that prohibited pharmacists from advertising prescription drug prices.
  • Public Citizen petition leads to FDA ban on use of cancer-causing chloroform in cough medicines and toothpaste.
  • Public Citizen is key advocate in passing Toxic Substances Control Act and antitrust reform legislation allowing states to sue price fixers.
  • Public Citizen wins Supreme Court case upholding airline passengers’ rights to sue for damages when bumped from flights for which they had confirmed reservations.
  • Public Citizen petitions Department of Labor to post in all workplaces the chemicals to which workers are exposed.
  • Public Citizen uncovers secret deal between FDA and the Upjohn Company to conceal the contamination of anti-diabetes drug Tolinase with cancer-causing nitrosamine.
  • Public Citizen exposes special tax breaks contained in the Senate version of the 1976 Tax Reform Act, leading to the deletion of 20 such provisions.
  • Public Citizen successfully lobbies for Civil Rights Enforcement Reimbursement Act, permitting successful civil rights litigants to recover costs from defendants judged to have violated civil rights laws, and for Sunshine Act, requiring senior government officials to keep records and public logs, and expanding provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.

1975

  • Public Citizen wins Supreme Court ruling forbidding lawyers and other professionals from fixing prices.
  • Public Citizen wins Supreme Court decision barring President Nixon from refusing to spend, or “impounding,” funds appropriated by Congress.
  • Public Citizen successfully lobbies Congress for energy conservation legislation, including fuel economy requirements for cars.
  • Public Citizen obtains court order forcing Labor Department to reconsider inadequate rules protecting workers from 14 carcinogenic chemicals.
  • Public Citizen publishes Through the Mental Health Maze: A Consumer’s Guide to Finding a Psychotherapist and Taking the Pain Out of Finding a Good Dentist.
  • A Public Citizen survey of the 50 largest hospitals in the U.S. reveals most are violating government regulations to protect Medicaid recipients during surgical sterilization.
  • Public Citizen petitions FDA to require safety testing for Dalkon Shield and other intrauterine contraceptive devices.
  • Public Citizen exposes invasions of privacy by IRS agents gathering information on the sex lives and drinking habits of politicians and activists.
  • Public Citizen successfully lobbies to delete from the House energy bill several special interest tax provisions, including a break for wealthy utility shareholders.

1974

  • Public Citizen creates another division, the Critical Mass Energy Project, to mobilize opposition to nuclear power and promote energy conservation and renewable sources.
  • Public Citizen legal action forces OSHA to limit workplace exposure to 10 common carcinogens.
  • Public Citizen persuades Congress to override President Ford’s veto and pass major improvements to Freedom of Information Act.
  • Public Citizen publishes directory of doctors in Prince Georges County, Maryland – the first of its kind in the nation – and challenges laws restricting consumer access to information about doctors.
  • Public Citizen organizes Critical Mass ’74, the first national conference of anti-nuclear energy activists, taking its name from the industry’s own jargon.

1973

  • Ralph Nader and Joan Claybrook establish Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division to press for congressional accountability and lobby for legislation to protect consumers.
  • In response to Public Citizen’s lawsuit, President Nixon’s firing of Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox is ruled illegal.

1972

  • Ralph Nader and Alan Morrison establish the Public Citizen Litigation Group to litigate on behalf of consumers.
  • Public Citizen files lawsuit resulting in new compensation system for airline passengers on overbooked flights (see 1976 SC decision).
  • Public Citizen persuades FDA to ban Pertussin Medicated Vaporizer after deaths of 18 children.
  • Public Citizen plays key role in creation of Consumer Product Safety Commission.

1971

  • Ralph Nader founds Public Citizen as an organization dedicated to protecting health, safety and democracy.
  • Ralph Nader and Dr. Sidney Wolfe establish Public Citizen’s Health Research Group division to investigate public health threats and press for reforms.
  • Public Citizen petitions FDA to ban the use of Red Dye No. 2 as food coloring, citing links to cancer and birth defects.
  • Public Citizen funds the Small Claims Study Group to produce a 763-page report, Little Injustices: Small Claims Courts and the American Consumer.
  • Public Citizen convenes conference of truck drivers to seek safety reforms; Professional Drivers Council for Safety and Health formed.

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