The Navajo Nation secures a significant $31 million settlement with the USEPA, resolving the Navajo Nation’s claims against the USEPA for triggering the August 2015 Gold King Mine spill.
The settlement follows extensive discovery and motion practice over the last six years during which we defeated the United States’ numerous attempts to dismiss the Nation’s claims based on sovereign immunity and other defenses. The USEPA and its contractors caused the unprecedented disaster, which released millions of gallons of toxic acid mine waste into the waters upstream of the Navajo Nation, when they recklessly excavated into the abandoned Gold King Mine in disregard of highly pressurized conditions inside. Discovery revealed that the backup USEPA On-Scene Coordinator threw out the work plans and directed excavation into the face of the plug holding back the water.
Last year, on behalf of the Navajo Nation, we won a motion for sanctions against the USEPA for destroying evidence. To date, Hueston Hennigan has recovered $41 million dollars on behalf of the Navajo Nation, and trial is set for November 2022 against two USEPA contractors.
“This settlement is an important victory for the Navajo Nation and holds the United States accountable for its role in causing this disaster,” said Hueston Hennigan partner Andrew K. Walsh. “It is the most significant step yet in our commitment to obtain full and fair compensation for the Navajo Nation.”
The Hueston Hennigan team includes John Hueston, Moez Kaba, Andrew Walsh, Joseph Crusham, Shannon Coit, Lauren McGrory Johnson, Sara Haji, Justin Greer, Spencer Schmider, and Kelsey Dayton.