• U.S. Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) is arrested for insider trading, more than a year after Public Citizen called for an investigation into his stock trading.
  • Obama-era protections for students of predatory for-profit college students take effect after Public Citizen successfully sues the Trump administration for delaying the rules.
  • A dangerous cancer treatment ingredient will no longer be used in pharmacy compounding as a result of Public Citizen’s work. In July, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted Public Citizen’s request for the agency to prohibit the use of heart-toxic cesium chloride – which has been promoted as an alternative treatment to cancer – in pharmacy compounding. Compounding is the process of combining or altering ingredients to create a medication tailored to the needs of an individual patient.
  • U.S. Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) is arrested for insider trading, more than a year after Public Citizen called for an investigation into his stock trading.
  • Obama-era protections for students of predatory for-profit college students take effect after Public Citizen successfully sues the Trump administration for delaying the rules.
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in June announced that it had made substantive changes to the protocol and consent forms for the Myocardial Ischemia and Transfusion (MINT) trial sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Public Citizen in August 2017 warned about potentially serious ethical violations that could have placed the subjects of the study, who are heart attack patients, at unnecessary risk.
  • Public Citizen won a swift court victory in April that resulted in the reinstatement of grant money for at-risk teens served by six pregnancy prevention programs. On April 19, the U.S. District Court of Columbia ruled that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) early termination of grants was unlawful. The court ruling came just one day after Public Citizen attorney Sean Sherman argued the case in court.  Public Citizen then filed a class-action lawsuit to reinstate the funding for 62 other grantees, and won that case in June.
  • In May, parents were able to rest easier knowing that dangerous and ineffective over-the-counter medications to ease teething pain in their babies were being pulled from store shelves. In response to a Public Citizen petition and lawsuit, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in May announced that it would effectively ban over-the-counter benzocaine teething products. That means infants will be safe from the ingredient that can cause methemoglobinemia, a life-threatening blood disorder that impairs the body’s ability to use oxygen.
  • Uber responded to pressure from Public Citizen and allies in May and eliminated forced arbitration agreements that keep employees, drivers and passengers who are victimized by sexual harassment from pursuing their rights in court. Public Citizen has long been fighting to remove these abusive provisions from contracts.
  • In May, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) agreed to look into allegations that some National Institutes of Health (NIH) officials helped solicit donations from alcohol manufacturers to fund an alcohol study. Public Citizen had called on HHS to launch a formal investigation into the NIH officials’ conduct and joined with 13 other consumer advocacy, science and public health groups to urge HHS Secretary Alex Azar to request an IG investigation into this matter. In June, NIH pulled the plug on the study.
  • In April, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s office reinstated the 46 public health and environmental protections that were suspended across 60 counties for more than six months in response to Hurricane Harvey. The move came two days after Public Citizen’s Texas office, along with nine allies, called on the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to reinstate the protections.
  • In March, most poison pill policy riders were removed from the 2018 omnibus appropriations package, including the Johnson Amendment, which would have unleashed an additional $1 billion in secret political spending. As a part of the Clean Budget Coalition, Public Citizen worked to ensure that the 2018 omnibus appropriations package was clean, with no corporate or ideological riders.
  • The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in February abandoned its attempt to delay a federal rule designed to provide greater housing opportunities for low-income renters. A coalition of organizations, including Public Citizen, represented a fair housing organization and two voucher recipients in their lawsuit against HUD, which ultimately agreed to implement the Small Area Fair Market Rule.
  • Public Citizen's Democracy Is For People campaign scored an important victory in February when the D.C. Council voted to pass the Fair Elections Act of 2017, which opened the door for small-donor public financing of political campaigns in the district. The campaign won again in March when D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the bill into law.
  • President Donald Trump's Secret Service in February agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by Public Citizen over visitor logs of four key agencies in the White House complex. The settlement will lead to the visitor logs, which the Trump administration had refused to release, being posted online for all to see.


  • The Superior Court of the District of Columbia in October issued a ruling protecting the anonymity rights of protestors using a website. In this case, Public Citizen represented anonymous users of, a site used to organize protests during the inauguration of President Donald Trump. The court denied the government access to identifying information about third parties who communicated with the website.
  • Throughout 2016, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch never lost focus on their largest goal: stopping the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Public Citizen crafted a diverse coalition of allies to assist in educating, lobbying and organizing to stop the TPP. No single politician did this. Though President Trump undoubtedly will take the credit, the demise of the TPP was a result of collective action by progressive groups around the country.
  • In October, a four-year campaign organized by grassroots activists in New York City and national organizations such as Public Citizen ended successfully when NYC’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors voted to eliminate alcohol advertisements from its public transportation system.
  • Texas Rep. Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) proposed a bill with provisions to expand storage capacity at a low-level radioactive waste site in Andrews County, Texas. Public Citizen mobilized its members in Texas to fight back for public health and safety. In May, Landgraf removed these provisions from his bill after pressure from his peers in the legislature, marking a victory for environmentalists.
  • A day after Public Citizen called for an investigation into whether President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act or the Lobbying and Disclosure Act, Lewandowski quit the lobbying firm he co-founded. Public Citizen sent the complaint to the U.S. Department of Justice, the Secretary of the U.S. Senate and the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives urging them to investigate Lewandowski.
  • In May, Nevada became the 19th state to support a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. Public Citizen has been working with allies throughout the country to overturn Citizens United since the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2010.
  • In April, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sent more than 90 letters to social media influencers and celebrities reminding them that sponsorships and any other paid promotion or endorsement of products via social media must be clearly disclosed. Only after Public Citizen and partner organizations filed petitions demanding that the commission take action did the FTC send these letters. Public Citizen soon after filed a Freedom of Information Act request in order to have the names of the reprimanded influencers released.
  • Public Citizen in February filed a complaint urging the U.S. Office of Government Ethics (OGE) to investigate whether White House counselor Kellyanne Conway violated federal regulations addressing the use of public office for private gain. The OGE later found that Conway misused her position by using a television interview to encourage the public to purchase Ivanka Trump products. The agency called on the White House to discipline Conway.
  • Due to enormous public backlash, House Republicans backed off a plan to strip the U.S. Office of Congressional Ethics of its independence and most of its power. Public Citizen mobilized activists nationwide to help save the agency.
  • More than 15 years after Public Citizen first petitioned for stronger protections for workers exposed to toxic levels of beryllium, the federal government issued a protective rule. The new rule lowers the legal limit for workplace beryllium exposure from 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter of air to 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter of air. This new rule will prevent 94 deaths and stop 46 new cases of chronic beryllium disease each year.


  • In a victory for free speech, a Texas court dismissed a lawsuit against a couple who was being sued for sharing a negative review of a Dallas pet-sitting company on Yelp. The couple was represented by Public Citizen attorney Paul Alan Levy.
  • New York state made history on June 15 when it became the first state with at least one Republican-controlled state legislature chamber to call for a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (FEC) ruling. Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People Campaign has been leading the charge to get money out of politics since the 2010 Citizens United decision. New York was the 17th state to call for an amendment and Washington state followed suit on November 8, becoming the 18th state.
  • Public Citizen was one of the lead organizers of Democracy Awakening, a three-day event in April that drew more than 5,000 activists who chanted, marched, lobbied and were even arrested on the Capitol steps. Greenpeace, the NAACP and more than 300 other groups joined the mobilization in the nation’s capital, and demonstrators came from all corners of the country.
  • The U.S. Department of Labor updated workplace protections that will reduce illnesses and deaths related to crystalline silica dust. Public Citizen actively pushed for an update to the standards.
  • In a victory for workers nationwide, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a class-action suit against Tyson Foods, saying that workers were properly permitted to join together in a lawsuit over claims of lost wages. Public Citizen prepared the briefs in support of the workers for the case, Tyson Foods Inc. v. Bouaphakeo.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposed banning powdered surgical and medical examination gloves – 18 years after Public Citizen called for them to be removed from the market because of the dangers they pose to health care workers and patients.
  • Public Citizen stopped an industry-backed report designed to kill a “position limits” rule that would curb energy price spikes caused by market speculation. Position limits restrict the size or share of a market that any trader can take. Public Citizen Energy Program Director Tyson Slocum provided his criticism of the report to journalists, who wrote stories about the behind-the-scenes maneuvering at the agency to kill the consumer-friendly rule.
  • Public Citizen attorney Scott Nelson served as co-counsel before the U.S. Supreme Court in Campbell-Ewald Co. v. Gomez. Campbell-Ewald Co. sent out a mass marketing text message to thousands of people, including Jose Gomez, who said they did not give them consent to receive said text messages. The Supreme Court sided with Gomez, preventing the corporation from escaping liability from their own wrongdoings.


  • When Congress passed a spending bill in December 2015, a Public Citizen-led coalition blocked hundreds of harmful policy provisions or “riders” from being enacted in a fiscal 2016 spending bill. The ideological riders would have helped big businesses, and because they would not have prevailed as single, stand-alone bills, lawmakers tried to sneak them into this must-pass legislation.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency heeded calls from Public Citizen and 25,000 activists to strengthen the Clean Power Plan, a rule to limit greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants. Public Citizen demonstrated that the Clean Power Plan would benefit both consumers and businesses in every state.
  • The D.C. Public Service Commission rejected the takeover of Pepco by utility giant Exelon after the efforts of Public Citizen and other groups mobilized the public to speak out against the proposed deal. D.C. regulators recognized that Exelon’s economic interests and business model are incompatible with the District’s established policies of promoting renewable energy and localizing the generation of electricity. The regulators also recognized the role that public opinion and citizen engagement played in their decision. More than 1,000 residents, the Office of People’s Counsel, four D.C. Councilmembers and 27 District advisory neighborhood commissions voiced their opposition to the takeover.
  • In an important victory for transparency and corporate accountability, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit sided with Public Citizen in a case concerning the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s ability to release to the National Security Archive 9,257 pages of records related to an investigation of Chiquita Brands International’s illegal payments to a Colombian terrorist organization. Though Chiquita argued that releasing these records would deny the company a fair trial in a Florida case brought on behalf of victims of the terrorist organization, Public Citizen maintained that the government cannot withhold these important documents from the public. The court decision cleared the way for the release of the papers.
  • On July 6, Public Citizen won another victory for consumers posting reviews anonymously online. A Florida-based attorney filed a subpoena to force Avvo, a Seattle-based website that allows users to find and rate lawyers, to release the identity of a critic who posted on the website. In the subsequent court case, Thomson v. Doe, Public Citizen argued before the Washington state appellate court urging it to adopt a strong standard that would protect consumers’ First Amendment right to post anonymous reviews online. The Washington court adopted most of the test suggested by Public Citizen, setting a precedent that protects free speech.
  • Public Citizen helped win a major court case that ensured students remain protected from the exploitive practices of for-profit colleges. In Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU) v. Duncan, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia upheld the Department of Education’s gainful employment rule, which protects students from unethical career training programs often offered by for-profit colleges. The gainful employment rule requires schools whose students receive certain federal student aid to certify that they meet certain accreditation requirements and prove that graduates’ debt burden relative to their earnings are not too high. APSCU challenging the rule in court, claiming that it exceeded the authority of the Department of Education. Public Citizen filed a friend-of-the court brief in support of the rule, arguing that it helps protect students from the abusive practices of these institutions. The rule was upheld.
  • The 84th Texas legislative session could have been a disaster: Lawmakers proposed a slew of dangerous bills, including some that would have lessened regulation of oil and gas operations and undermined clean energy policies. However, Public Citizen successfully advocated bills that gave people and businesses incentives to use renewable energy while fighting off efforts to repeal environmental protection standards.
  • Louisiana lawmakers introduced a bill that would have substantially undermined the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners’ (LSBME) ability to investigate allegations of physician incompetence or unprofessional conduct. It also would have impeded the board’s ability to discipline physicians found guilty of misconduct. Public Citizen helped to sound the alarm against the legislation by contacting the media and writing to lawmakers urging them to reject the bill. With the help of Public Citizen’s advocacy, the damaging provisions of the bill were eliminated, and patients in Louisiana remain protected.
  • On April 16, Public Citizen helped win a victory for consumers and honest businesses alike. The Virginia Supreme Court ruled that the business review website Yelp did not have to identify online critics of a carpet cleaning service. The case began in 2012 when Hadeed Carpet Cleaners sued seven Yelp reviewers after they posted critical reviews and subpoenaed documents from Yelp that would identify the authors. A trial judge rejected Yelp’s objections to the subpoena and the Virginia Court of Appeals affirmed the order enforcing the subpoena. The Virginia Supreme Court reversed the appellate court’s decision because the subpoena was filed in the wrong state. Although the case was decided on jurisdictional grounds, it represents an important victory for free speech.
  • In February, students won a victory against exploitative forced arbitration clauses, with help from Public Citizen. Previously, students at 56 campuses owned by the for-profit Corinthian Colleges had given up the right to take these institutions to court, due to fine print in their enrollment forms. Many for-profit colleges use false, misleading data about job placement rates to induce students to enroll then leave many of those students in debt. However, pressure from Public Citizen and the Fair Arbitration Now coalition ensured that Corinthian students will be able to hold the colleges accountable in court. Enrollment terms at these colleges are now banned from including forced arbitration clauses.
  • Thanks to Public Citizen, Applebee’s workers in New York won a key victory when the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that they can pursue their wage-and-hour lawsuit as a class action. Workers had argued that the Applebee’s franchise violated wage-and-hour laws by docking pay for rest breaks they weren’t given, not paying employees proper overtime and violating the Fair Labor Standards Act. However, a district court held that because of a Supreme Court ruling, the employees couldn’t pursue a class-action lawsuit. Public Citizen helped represent the workers’ appeal in the Second Circuit Court, which held that the lower court’s ruling was wrong and sent the case back to district court.


  • In response to a Public Citizen petition, the Alabama Supreme Court lifted a gag order imposed on more than 100 plaintiffs and their attorneys. The lifting of the order ensured that consumers would have access to important information when deciding how to spend their money. The court recognized that the gag order violated the First Amendment, and prevented plaintiffs and their attorneys from discussing why they should be cautious if employing a particular extermination company.
  • The Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP) confirmed that a number of parents of premature infants enrolled in a government-funded study were not given enough information on the risks of the trial. Public Citizen had successfully brought media attention in 2013 to the controversial trial, in which premature infants were given different levels of oxygen. The OHRP drafted “Guidance on Disclosing Reasonably Foreseeable Risks in Research Evaluating Standards of Care,” designed to ensure enough information would be given to those participating in future trials.
  • On June 26, Judge Dee Benson of the U.S. District Court in Utah awarded Public Citizen clients John and Jen Palmer $306,750 ($102,250 in compensatory damages and $204,500 in punitive damages) against online retailer The company had demanded $3,500 from the Palmers after a critical online review of the company, then ruined John’s credit when he refused to pay. Public Citizen sued on the Palmers’ behalf in December.
  • On June 13, in response to a legal threat by Public Citizen, the Ready for Hillary political action committee (PAC) retracted its cease-and-desist letter demanding online retailers take down parody merchandise made by Minnesota activist Dan McCall. The PAC acknowledged that McCall’s merchandise did not violate intellectual property rights.
  • On June 13, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit invalidated U.S. Department of Labor rules that permitted employers to pay herders far less than other agricultural workers and allowed lower standards for employer-provided housing. Public Citizen attorneys argued this case in February on behalf of the herders.
  • After pressure from Public Citizen and Power U Center for Social Change, a Miami member-led community organization, the nation’s largest hospital, Jackson Memorial Hospital in Florida, stopped giving new mothers leaving the hospital corporate sponsored discharge bags with infant formula samples, and started giving out breast feeding support bags. Jackson Memorial was hoping to be labeled as “Baby Friendly,” meaning the hospital would be in line with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) mission to provide breast feeding support. This change likely improved new mothers’ breast feeding success and community health in general. Public Citizen has been campaigning to end formula marketing since 2012; this was a huge success and a step in the right direction.
  • After pressure by Public Citizen, 15 hospitals and medical institutions around the country severed their relationships with HealthFair – a company that promotes cardiovascular disease screening packages. In June, Public Citizen sent letters to the hospitals and medical institutions detailing the reasons these screening packages are unethical, unnecessary and do more harm than good. The hospitals and institutions listened to the call and swiftly ended their contracts with HealthFair. Public Citizen continues to urge hospitals to break their ties with the company.
  • Public Citizen successfully argued that injury to corporate reputation doesn’t justify sealing a court case. In Company Doe v. Public Citizen, Public Citizen challenged a lower court order sealing court documents and permitting a company to litigate its case under a pseudonym. The company, later revealed to be baby carrier maker Ergobaby, had sued the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to stop a negative report about its product from being put in the commission’s online product safety database. Public Citizen’s victory solidified the integrity of the federal database designed to warn consumers about faulty products and confirmed the importance of public access to courts.
  • After six years and an impending date with Public Citizen in court, U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a new auto safety standard to improve rear visibility of vehicles and prevent deaths that occur when drivers back over people that they cannot see. A 2008 law named after a young child that was killed in such an accident, Cameron Gulbransen, required the DOT to issue a rear visibility standard by February 2011, but the Obama administration delayed issuing the rule.
  • The federal government in February acknowledged that merchants who use images and names of the government agencies on parody merchandise are not violating federal laws. The admission settled a lawsuit against the National Security Administration (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In that suit, Public Citizen represented, which sold T-shirts, hats, bumper stickers and other items that used NSA and DHS seals for parody. Public Citizen argued that there exists a First Amendment right to sell parody merchandise using government seals.



  • By the end of the year, support for a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision stood at around 40 percent of each of the three thresholds needed, due largely to the work of Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People campaign and its allies around the country. Thirty-one senators were sponsoring or co-sponsoring an amendment, which is 46 percent of the 67 senatorial votes needed. Additionally, 16 of the 38 states needed to ratify an amendment have passed official resolutions or ballot measures.
  • In response to a 2011 Public Citizen petition, the FDA in November 2013 proposed a rule allowing generic drug manufactures to update labels when they learn about new risks their medications pose. This important patient safety measure is needed because generic drug manufactures are not permitted to update their labels unless the brand-name manufacturer has done so. The rule still must be finalized.
  • A report co-authored by Public Citizen and the Ban the Bags campaign issued in October showed that the vast majority of the nation’s top hospitals have stopped infant formula promotion, including through the give-away of free samples. Public Citizen’s report was the next step in its national campaign to end formula promotion in health care facilities and proved that its efforts are paying off. Additionally, more than 16,600 people signed Public Citizen’s petition calling on the three major formula companies to stop marketing in health care facilities.
  • Two years after receiving a Public Citizen petition calling for the addition of a black box warning to the label of the risky anti-biotic tigecycline, the FDA agreed with the organization. On September 27, the FDA announced that this antibiotic – approved for use to treat a wide range of serious infections and sold by Pfizer under the brand name Tygacil – would now have to carry a black box warning, the strongest measure the FDA can take short of banning a drug all together.
  • In early March, following a 2012 letter Public Citizen sent to the FDA urging the agency to end the distribution, sale and promotion of the LipoTron medical device because it was unapproved and potentially dangerous, the FDA sent its manufacturer a letter telling it that the device needs FDA approval and should not be marketed until that approval is secured.
  • Due to the efforts of Public Citizen and the Corporate Reform Coalition, the Securities and Exchange Commission has received more than 700,000 comments in support of a petition by year’s end asking the agency to require disclosure of all political spending.
  • The Coalition for Sensible Safeguards, which Public Citizen co-chairs, successfully opposed a series of anti-regulatory amendments that a number of U.S. senators attempted to add into the budget bill in March. These amendments, which would have made it much harder for federal agencies to do their jobs and protect the public, were eventually rejected before they reached a vote, thanks to the rapid response effort led by the coalition.
  • Charles Schwab Corp. announced in early May that it would remove a provision in its investor contracts that denied its customers the ability to band together in class actions defending it, three weeks after Public Citizen launched its “Stand Up to Chuck” campaign that prompted more than 17,000 activists to sign a petition calling on the corporation to remove the class-action ban.
  • The U.S Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled in August that a police officer from Burbank, Calif., who disclosed the abuse of suspects by his fellow law officers, was engaging in speech protected by the First Amendment, thanks to Public Citizen’s help in ensuring his case was heard before a federal appeals court.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously sided with Public Citizen in the Dan’s City Used Cars, Inc. v. Pelkey decision, handed down in May, allowing that the owner of a car may sue a towing company under state law for impermissibly selling his or her towed car. Public Citizen’s Adina Rosenbaum was Supreme Court co-counsel in the case.
  • After an extensive push by Public Citizen, companies that proposed building two Texas power plants that would have burned dirty fossil fuels abandoned the projects; instead, the companies decided to focus on wind power.
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission announced that it would consider a corporate political spending disclosure rule; this announcement was made after Public Citizen spearheaded a campaign to get the public to send comments in support of such a proposal.
  • Public Citizen publicized a jaw-dropping study which revealed that the federal government funded an experiment that exposed premature babies to death and blindness and that the parents were not informed of these risks. Public Citizen's study received national media attention.



  • The STOCK Act was passed by Congress and signed to law by President Barack Obama. Since 2006, Public Citizen lobbied tirelessly to get the STOCK Act passed. As a result of the new law, senators, representatives and their staff must abide by the same insider trading rules as everyone else.
  • The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the substantial parts of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which required that new, government-selected graphic warnings be placed on cigarette packages. Public Citizen, along with various other groups, filed a friend-of-the-court brief which urged that the law be upheld.
  • By the end of 2012, 11 states, more than 350 localities and more than 125 members of Congress endorsed a proposed constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. This was made possible due to the successful campaigning done by Public Citizen and other organizations.
  • Public Citizen and the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards successfully pushed back against the Regulatory Accountability Act and the Independent Agency Regulatory Analysis Act, both bills that would have obstructed the regulatory process by introducing major delays and limiting the ability of agencies to implement regulations.
  • Largely due to the work of Public Citizen and its allies, the Austin City Council reduced the size of its originally proposed electric rate. The city reduced its monthly fees for residential customers from $22 to $10.
  • The Virginia Supreme Court reversed an injunction issued against a woman who posted criticisms about her former contractor on Yelp. Public Citizen successfully argued that the injunction violated the First Amendment.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a temporary suspension to BP; the suspension barred BP from engaging in new federal contracts. This was after intense lobbying by Public Citizen and other organizations.
  • Public Citizen pushed for and helped pass the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, which extends whistleblower protections beyond the first person who discloses fraud, waste and/or abuse of authority. It gives federal workers more opportunity and resources to ensure a more efficient and well run government.
  • In response in part to letters from Public Citizen, union representatives and others, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health issued a hazard alert for workers who work in the fracking industry. The alert stated that employers must ensure that workers are properly protected from overexposure to crystalline silica.
  • During the congressional recess in January, President Barack Obama appointed Richard Cordray to lead the newly established Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPB). For months, Public Citizen encouraged the president to bypass a stalemate in the U.S. Senate and take advantage of a congressional recess to appoint the new head of the CFPB.
  • Public Citizen won a U.S. Supreme Court case, successfully defending consumers’ right to recover damages based on abusive “robocalls.” In Mims v. Arrow Financial Services, the justices ruled that consumers can continue to turn to the federal court system when victimized by corporations abusing the auto-dialed calls.
  • President Barack Obama rejected the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would have carried tar sands crude oil – the dirtiest type of oil in the world – through the Ogallala Aquifer, which provides drinking water for millions of Americans and provides 30 percent of the nation’s irrigation groundwater. Public Citizen played a major role in protesting the Keystone XL pipeline through means such as orchestrating turnout for protests, helping document the environmental threat and participating in a sit-in in front of the White House.
  • Public Citizen successfully defended activists from Occupy Chattanooga in court who were being sued by the county government for violating a new anti-protesting ordinance, arguing that a local government cannot sue its citizens to get a court ruling that its own law is constitutional and then force the individuals to pay the county’s litigation costs
  • Because of a lawsuit filed by Public Citizen and other groups, a federal court said that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must address the growing human health threats resulting from the overuse of antibiotics in animal feed.
  • Public Citizen persuaded the Wyoming Department of Health to require the Sheridan Memorial Hospital – where medical devices were not adequately sterilized – to inform patients about the possible exposure and risks, offer to screen patients for possible infections the exposure may have caused and treat any patients found to have been infected. A whistleblower brought the insufficient sterilization to Public Citizen’s attention; Public Citizen urged the Department of Health to act and alerted the media.


  • The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Public Citizen in late January finding that several rules governing lawyer advertisements in Louisiana were unconstitutional. The rules, which took effect in 2009, prohibited references to past successes as well as portrayals of judges and juries. They also required disclaimers to be in such large type that they would overwhelm the ad. The ruling was a victory for consumers as the rules violated free speech and imposed unfair and vague restrictions on lawyer advertising.
  • In February, Public Citizen led the charge against the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) and the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) regarding a webinar the groups held that contained inaccurate advice on breast implant-related cancer. Specifically, one of the organization’s presidents advised members to avoid using the word “cancer” when talking about a rare type of cancer found in women with implants. Public Citizen reported their concerns to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the webinar was subsequently taken offline.
  • Public Citizen was involved in three successful court cases relating to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) – Federal Communications Commission v. AT&T and Milner v. Department of the Navy in the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as Taylor v. Babbitt in Washington, D.C., district court. The rulings represented a victory not only for Public Citizen, but also for the public, thanks to the courts’ emphasis on accountability.
  • Public Citizen defended a group of activists’ First Amendment right to parody online in a case against Koch Industries. The case dealt with climate change activists who issued a mock press release and created a fake website to call attention to Koch’s bankrolling efforts to deny climate change. In May, the judge rejected all of Koch’s legal claims, which included trademark infringement, unfair competition, cybersquatting, computer hacking and breach of the company website’s terms of use.
  • In May, Public Citizen protected members in a class-action lawsuit against membership-buying service DirectBuy by preventing a bad settlement from being approved. The proposed settlement provided almost no relief to class members; it even required more than 836,000 members to forgo pursuing other claims against DirectBuy. A federal judge ruled in favor of Public Citizen’s complaint and denied the suggested settlement, noting that the relief proposed was meager in light of the potential recovery against DirectBuy.
  • Public Citizen successfully lobbied the Federal Election Commission (FEC) in late June to reject in part a request by comedian Stephen Colbert to expand the reach of the “press exemption” for his Super PAC under campaign finance law. This would have created a large loophole in campaign finance laws and allowed any company involved in media to foot – in secret and without limit – the electioneering expenses of political committees. Instead, the FEC approved a narrower version of Colbert’s request, which is consistent with the current press exemption.
  • Nixon’s 1975 grand jury testimony was released after Public Citizen successfully argued in federal court that it had great historic value.
  • Public Citizen scored a victory in a decade-long campaign to stop expansion of the World Trade Organization (WTO) when the WTO Director General and numerous signatory countries recognized that there were “insurmountable” differences between countries in the Doha round of WTO expansion.


  • Public Citizen's argument in the Alaska Supreme Court against shady debt collectors is successful.
  • Public Citizen wins a major case in an effort to curb the pervasive practice of inserting forced arbitration clauses in the fine print of nursing home contracts. In Dickerson v. Longoria, the court held that the authority to make health care and financial decisions on a nursing home resident's behalf does not give that person authority to sign away the resident's right to go to court.
  • Congress passes financial reform legislation that is stronger because of pressure from Public Citizen and its members. The measure, known as the Dodd-Frank bill, created a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and curbed some of the worst practices in the derivates markets. 
  • Public Citizen wins a battle in its fight to stop a White Stallion coal and petroleum coke-fired power plants near Bay City, Texas, from being built after two judges ruled against recommending a permit necessary for the plant to operate.
  • The Food and Drug Administration decides not to approve the diet drug Qnexa after Public Citizen testified before an advisory committee describing how it could be harmful.
  • After pressure from Public Citizen, the U.S. House of Representatives passes the DISCLOSE Act (Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections) that would require corporations, unions and other organizations to identify how much they spend on elections and from where the money is coming.
  • After Public Citizen argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, the justices held that state procedural rules barring class-action lawsuits cannot trump federal court rules allowing them. 
  • Darvon and Darvocet are pulled off the market. Public Citizen petitioned in 1978 and 2006 for the painkillers, which are associated with deadly heart problems, to be taken off shelves. Public Citizen in 2009 asked the FDA to reconsider its denial of the 2006 petition. In 2010, the FDA finally responded.
  • The dangerous diet drug Meridia is pulled off shelves. Public Citizen petitioned for its removal .
  • The FDA revokes its approval of the Menaflex device designed to replace damaged knee cartilage. Public Citizen warned the agency that no evidence existed to show the device was beneficial.
  • After more than 30 years of Public Citizen’s petitioning, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) told the manufacturers of the dangerous painkiller propoxyphene to remove it from the market . The ban includes the version of the drug sold as a single ingredient (brand name: Darvon) and the version sold in combination with acetaminophen (brand name: Darvocet), as well as their generic equivalents.
  • A Massachusetts Superior Court backed Public Citizen in December when it ruled that including a company’s name in a website’s meta tags did not constitute trademark infringement. In the case, the documentary company, Long Bow Group, made a film about the Tiananmen Square protests featuring Ling Chai, a student leader in the protests, and included her company’s name, Jenzabar Inc., in the meta tags on the film’s website. Chai claimed that including “Jenzabar” in the website’s tags infringed upon and diluted her company’s trademark. The judge sided with Public Citizen and ruled that they did not.


  • Public Citizen sues the government to get documents about the safety of using a cell phone while driving. Public Citizen's efforts are successful; the records provided fodder for a New York Times story that sparked a national debate about cell phone usage in automobiles.
  • A Public Citizen lawsuit, part of an ongoing battle, prompts the Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to agree to rewrite Bush administration policies on truckers. Public Citizen had filed a lawsuit claiming that truckers working hours were too long. The agencies agreed to rewrite the policies that allowed truck drivers to work for so long.
  • Public Citizen and the Natural Resources Defense Council win a lawsuit against the Consumer Product Safety Commission, stopping the agency from allowing phthalate-laden children’s products that were made before a ban of such items to be sold after the ban took effect.
  • As a result of a Public Citizen lawsuit, the federal government makes public a database that allows potential used car buyers to check the validity of a vehicle’s title, mileage and history of theft or damage.
  • The Food and Drug Administration grants Public Citizen’s 2008 petition and requires strong warnings to be issued to doctors and patients about the dangers associated with the use of botulinum toxin (Botox, Myobloc, Dysport).
  • The Chrysler Group agrees to assume responsibility for product liability claims brought by people injured in post-Chrysler bankruptcy crashes involving cars sold before the bankruptcy after considerable pressure from consumer advocacy groups, including Public Citizen.


  • After pressure from Public Citizen, Congress passes the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which makes critical reforms to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
  • The Food and Drug Administration announces that it will require its most serious “black box” warning about the risk of tendinitis and tendon rupture on all packages of fluoroquinolene antibiotics, which include Cipro, Levaquin and Avelox, partly in response to a lawsuit filed by Public Citizen.
  • Public Citizen helps a Georgia resident win a major victory for online free speech, when a federal judge upholds the resident’s right to criticize Wal-Mart’s business practices by using satire.
  • Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch division publishes two books, “Federalism and Global Governance” and “The Rise and Fall of Fast Track Trade Authority”.
  • Public Citizen files a friend-of-the-court brief and argues in support of New York City's health regulation requiring certain fast-food restaurant chains in the city to post calorie information on their menu boards; a federal judge upholds the regulation.
  • Public Citizen helps pass legislation to protect children with the use of in cars.