Civil Matter

Notice of Violation - Civil Prosecution

If your violation notice is handled as a civil matter, your case will be reviewed by an attorney from the South Coast AQMD District Prosecutor’s office. The first contact is usually a “pre-suit” letter from the prosecutor, asking for information about your case. In unusually flagrant cases or those involving serious harm or danger, however, South Coast AQMD may immediately commence a legal action for civil penalties and a court-ordered injunction. South Coast AQMD also has the choice of seeking an Order for Abatement from the South Coast AQMD Hearing Board.

Either you or your attorney should contact the South Coast AQMD prosecutor named in the pre-suit letter to discuss your case. Explain to the prosecutor anything related to the violation that you believe South Coast AQMD should know in considering your case and in negotiating settlement terms. All reasonable efforts will be made to reach an amicable settlement. However, you are not obligated to settle. When an amicable settlement cannot be reached, a lawsuit will be filed, thus placing the matter before the court for further review and resolution.

You must reply by the date indicated in the letter. If you fail to respond by that date, the South Coast AQMD prosecutor will either file a lawsuit - a civil complaint - taking you to court, or institute an Order for Abatement proceeding before the South Coast AQMD Hearing Board if there is evidence of ongoing violations. If the prosecutor files a lawsuit, you will be served a copy of the complaint and a summons requiring you to file a written response with the court within 30 calendar days.

After the complaint is filed, “discovery” begins. During this process, both sides work to specify the main issues in the case. Written questions may be posed to you or your attorney. Individuals can be questioned under oath. The court requires that both sides appear at hearings to discuss a possible settlement.

If an agreement cannot be reached during these hearings, a trial date is set. If as a result of the trial, a judge finds that the business did violate South Coast AQMD rules, the court imposes a fine.

Although the maximum civil penalty generally is $75,000 per day per violation, greater penalties may be imposed for violations resulting in risk of great bodily harm or death (see California Health & Safety Code Civil Penalties §§ 42402 - 42403).

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South Coast Air Quality Management District

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