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Public Citizen, Inc. v. National Highway Safety Admin.

ELR Citation: 38 ELR 20020
Nos. No. 05-1188, (D.C. Cir., 01/22/2008)

The D.C. Circuit held that a consumer group lacks standing to challenge a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) safety standard requiring a warning system for underinflated tires. The group alleged that some of its members will suffer car accidents in the future that otherwise would be prevented if NHTSA were to adopt the group's safety standard proposals. The group, however, failed to show an injury-in-fact. To demonstrate an injury-in-fact in an increased-risk claim such as this one, there must be a substantially increased risk of harm and a substantial probability of harm with that increase taken into account. In addition, the constitutional requirement of imminence necessarily compels a very strict understanding of what increases in risk and overall risk levels can count as substantial. Otherwise, virtually any citizen can claim injury due to a fractional chance of benefit from an alternative action. Here, the group simply failed to demonstrate a substantial risk or probability of harm sufficient to warrant standing.