Our lawyers have a long track record of success in litigating high profile environmental matters. Our experience in these matters dates back to the worldwide defense of DDT in the 1970s. Since then, as the number and diversity of state and federal environmental programs have grown, we have stayed on the leading edge of environmental litigation. We have a thorough understanding of the relevant science and unparalleled experience in litigating cases involving issues of environmental law, toxic torts, and federal regulations.
We now routinely work with the world’s leading experts in medicine, environmental engineering, forensic chemistry, chemical fate and transport, geology, hydrogeology, natural resource damages, natural resource economics, industry practices, metallurgy, risk assessment, and toxicology. Our ability to both understand and advocate sound scientific principles has provided significant advantage to our clients in the successful resolution of their matters,, which have included: defense of governmental enforcement, cost recovery, and natural resource damage actions under CERCLA, as well as actions under RCRA, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Coastal Zone Management Act, as well as state environmental statutes of every sort. We also defend clients facing criminal prosecution under these federal and state environmental statutes, as well as private actions of every sort based upon the release of a chemical in circumstances that lead to allegations of injury to people, property, or the environment.
As the United States now enters a new generation of environmental law, our lawyers are ready for the challenge. Our past experience and constant monitoring of new scientific and legal developments positions us to litigate, on behalf of our present and future clients, complicated cutting-edge issues, such as whether the release of hydrocarbons into the atmosphere leads to global warming, whether global warming leads to sea level rise, and whether the migration of our population from the northeastern states to the south and west imposes too great a burden on environments that have limited sources of fresh water.
Representative Environmental Cases
Long Island aircraft manufacturing site. We currently represent a government contractor in connection with chemical releases from a facility that had been in operation since the 1930s.
Hudson River. We currently represent General Electric in connection with ongoing remediation and natural resource damages issues surrounding New York’s Hudson River.
Alexander v. Halliburton, et al., Case No. 5:11-cv-01343 (W.D. Ok. 2015). We obtained a voluntary dismissal (without any payment by our client) for an environmental consulting firm named as a defendant in this multi-plaintiff case, seeking personal injury and property damages arising from the presence of perchlorate in offsite drinking water wells. The perchlorate arose from the reclamation of missile casings for the U.S. military.
Arias v. DynCorp, 752 F.3d 1011 (D.C. Cir. 2014). This litigation was brought by over 3,300 Ecuadorian farmers and three Ecuadorian provinces alleging that aerial eradication operations on illicit coca conducted as part of the “Plan Colombia” anti-narcotics initiative had resulted in herbicide drift into Ecuador. The provincial and individual plaintiffs sought more than $1 billion in damages for alleged impacts of the herbicide on the Ecuadorian environment and natural resources, agricultural crops, farm animals and fish, and human health. We won dismissal of the provincial government’s natural resource claim in 2010, based on standing principles, and secured summary judgment on the individual farmers’ claims in 2013, based on the plaintiffs’ failure to present reliable expert testimony.
Dickey v. Northrop Grumman, et al., Civ. Action No. 2:11-CV-37 (W.D.N.C. 2011). We represented co-defendants in an action brought by a manufactured home community to recover property damages allegedly caused by the presence of volatile organic compounds in ground and surface water, which allegedly originated from our clients’ property. The court granted our motion to dismiss CERCLA and other federal statutory claims and the case was resolved.
Avondale v. Norfolk Southern, No. 1:05-2817-MBS (D.S.C. 2008). We defended the railroad in connection with the largest property damages action in South Carolina history, arising from a train derailment that led to a release of chlorine gas that allegedly caused corrosion at a manufacturing facility and forced it out of business. The plaintiff sought $500 million in compensatory damages alone. Our defense included a four-month successful effort to remove and keep the case in federal court (rather than an inhospitable state forum); assembly of a team of experts specializing in corrosion science, financial damages, and the textile industry; Daubert attacks on plaintiff’s expert witnesses; and acceptance at trial of responsibility for the accident and a proper measure of damages. These defense efforts resulted in a successful resolution for our client after three weeks of trial and on the eve of the cross-examination of plaintiff’s CEO.
New Mexico v. Gen. Elec. Co., 467 F.3d 1223 (10th Cir. 2006). New Mexico brought natural resource damages claims against General Electric and others in connection with the South Valley Superfund Site in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The state sought roughly $4 billion in damages under CERCLA and state common law theories for groundwater contamination allegedly emanating from U.S. Air Force Plant 83, which was the subject of ongoing remediation. After extensive briefing on both summary judgment and Daubert issues, a six-day Daubert hearing, and nearly twenty-five days of pretrial hearings, the court issued a series of lengthy legal and evidentiary rulings in which it rejected plaintiffs’ theories of recovery, excluded the opinions of plaintiffs’ expert hydrologist, engineers, and economist, and ultimately granted summary judgment to defendants. Subsequently, we successfully defended that ruling on appeal to the 10th Circuit.
Allgood v. General Motors Corp., No. 1:02-cv-1077-DFH-TAB (S.D. Ind. 2006). Neighbors of a manufacturing plant sought property damage and medical monitoring costs from our client allegedly arising from PCB contaminated groundwater, surface water, and soil. We prevailed in Daubert motions excluding plaintiffs' medical and risk assessment experts and obtained summary judgment as to most of plaintiffs’ claims. The plaintiffs then settled.
Anchor v. Novartis, et al., Civ. Action No. 05-CV-0007 (WMS) (W.D.N.Y. 2006). We defended a pharmaceutical manufacturer in connection with a multi-plaintiff personal injury, property damage, and CERCLA cost recovery suit arising from the release of hazardous substances from a chemical plant that manufactured our client’s product. We obtained dismissal of the case.
In re Pfohl Brothers Landfill Site (W.D.N.Y. 2003). We represented Litton Systems in litigation in connection with a large industrial and municipal waste disposal site in Buffalo, New York. The litigation involved defense of EPA and DEC enforcement actions, defense and prosecution of CERLCA private cost recovery actions, as well as defense of personal injury, property damage, and medical monitoring class actions. All matters were successfully settled.
Hoyte v. Stauffer Chemical Co., Case No. 98-3024-CI-7, 2002 WL 31892830 (Cir. Ct. Pinellas County Florida Nov. 6, 2002). A putative class of former phosphorus plant workers alleged work place exposure to a variety of hazardous substances and sought a court-supervised fund for a monitoring program designed to detect future injuries. Following a four-day evidentiary hearing in Florida state court, we obtained a favorable ruling rejecting class certification. A nominal settlement followed shortly thereafter.
South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control v. Western Atlas, Inc., et al., No. 00-1759 (D.S.C. 2000); South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control v. Carolina Steel & Wire, et al., No. 00-1760 (D.S.C. 2000). We represented Northrop Grumman in two CERCLA cost recovery and natural resource damages cases brought by the State of South Carolina arising from the alleged release of chlorinated solvents at two different facilities. Both cases resulted in entries of favorable consent decrees. We also resolved a purported class action seeking personal injury and property damage and two other private tort suits related to the sites.
Nease v. Occidental, (N.D. Ohio 1999). We represented Velsicol in this private CERCLA contribution action seeking to recover response costs relating its manufacture of a pesticide for Velsicol at its property. The case was settled.
Rutherford v. ITT Industries, Inc., Civil No. 4:98 CV263-WS (N.D. Fla. 1999). We defended a major class action in Madison County, Florida, in which property owners alleged damage due to solvent contamination of potable water supplies. The case settled on the eve of class certification hearings based on the strategy of enlarging the settlement class to preclude future filings. The company achieved a very favorable settlement, and no further lawsuits were filed.
Mathis Brothers Marble Top/Shaver’s Farm (N.D. Ga. 1998). We represented Velsicol in defense of EPA’s claim for past costs for carpet waste disposal sites in northern Georgia, and in connection with a CERCLA private cost recovery/contribution action against PRPs. All claims were resolved on favorable terms.
Carroll v. Litton Systems, 47 F.3d 1164, 1995 WL 56862 (4th Cir. 1995). We defended personal injury and property damage claims arising from releases of chlorinated solvents. We obtained exclusion of plaintiffs' expert testimony and summary judgment from the district court because plaintiffs’ experts were unable to demonstrate exposure to levels of chemicals sufficient to cause harm. The case ultimately settled on favorable terms.
Hassayampa Steering Comm. v. Velsicol Chem. Corp., 942 F.2d 791, 1991 WL 159823 (9th Cir. 1991). The Ninth Circuit affirmed summary judgment for our client Velsicol Chemical Company in a CERCLA cost recovery action in which the “district court correctly concluded that diphacinone was not a hazardous substance as defined by CERCLA” because diphacinone (a rodenticide waste allegedly disposed at a landfill) was neither a listed hazardous waste nor exhibited any of the characteristics of a hazardous waste.