A federal lawsuit in New York that involves Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO") claims is one of the latest developments in the United States Green Building Council’s ("USGBC") development and administration of the LEED™ building ratings system. The lawsuit appears highly contentious to say the least. Plaintiffs Henry Gifford and Gifford Fuel Saving, Inc. initiated a class action lawsuit against USGBC, USGBC’s founders (David Gottfried and Richard Fedrizzi), and the designer (Rob Watson) of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design ("LEED™") green building ratings system. The alleged class members include consumers and taxpayers whose dollars have been used to obtain LEED™ certification.
The lawsuit paints LEED™ as a farce that is not based on supportable science. Plaintiffs set forth six claims: (1) violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act for an alleged fraudulent monopoly of the green building market; (2) violation of the Lanham Act for alleged unfair competition by deceptive marketing; (3) deceptive trade practices and (4) false advertising for alleged misrepresentations and concealments in advertising; (5) RICO claims for defendants’ alleged deceptive scheme; and (6) unjust enrichment for alleged fraudulently induced profits.
We will update the blog as we receive more information concerning this lawsuit.