Friday, November 1, 2013

Public Citizen Health Research Group v. Chao case brief

Public Citizen Health Research Group v. Chao case brief summary
314 F.3d 143 (3d Cir. 2002)

Plaintiff organization sued defendant Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) under 5 U.S.C.S. § 706(1) of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) to compel OSHA to commence rulemaking with respect to standards for hexavalent chromium.

It was undisputed that hexavalent chromium, which was classified as a carcinogen, could have a deleterious effect on worker health. OSHA had announced nine years earlier that it was initiating rulemaking in order to revise the permissible exposure limit for hexavalent chromium, but the rulemaking process had not commenced. OSHA announced while the case was pending that it had instituted the rulemaking process, but that did not moot the case because the organization had asked the court to order OSHA to issue a proposed rule within 90 days.

  • The court found that the nine-year delay was unreasonable pursuant to § 706(1) and that scientific uncertainties, technical complexities, and competing agency priorities did not justify the delay. 
  • As the parties had expressed willingness to engage in mediation in order to work out a rulemaking timetable, the court decided to take that approach.


The court granted the organization's motion to compel OSHA to proceed expeditiously with hexavalent chromium rulemaking, but deferred its specific remedial order pending a 60-day mediation period.

Recommended Supplements for Administrative Law Examples & Explanations: Administrative Law, Fourth Edition
Administrative Law and Process: In a Nutshell (Nutshell Series)

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