Environmental litigation poses risks to many types of businesses, whether resulting from large-scale disasters or complex, changing regulations. We combine a comprehensive understanding of these issues with insightful counsel to develop effective legal strategies that protect our clients’ vital interests. Our successes on parallel levels range from winning landmark trial victories, to obtaining the dismissal of regulatory and criminal cases, and to quietly terminating bet-the-company regulatory and criminal investigations.
Our environmental practice assists clients in a wide range of complex litigation, as well as in regulatory and land use issues with particular focus on large-scale disasters. Because these actions are complex—often involving multiple private and governmental parties—we draw on our experience in other areas, including regulatory investigations and criminal defense, to develop a comprehensive strategy ensuring that our clients have every advantage. We move aggressively but prudently to give our clients the best chance of resolution at every stage. If informal resolution proves elusive, we draw on our deep bench of seasoned litigators to take the case to trial, achieving victories for the defendants and plaintiffs we represent.
Won defense verdict following a five-week bellwether jury trial in a mass tort environmental action brought against Fortune 100 client. This result led to a similarly favorable global settlement of all related cases for less than 5% of plaintiffs’ demands.
Secured a $5.15 billion settlement after trial for the Tronox Trust against Anadarko Petroleum Company and Kerr McGee Corporation for environmental liabilities and subsequent fraudulent transfer of those and other liabilities. The $5.15 billion recovery was the largest environmental bankruptcy case award in U.S. history. (See “Tronox Trust Wins Up To $14B In Kerr-McGee Spinoff Row,” Law360; “Anadarko, Kerr-McGee liable for Tronox cleanup costs,” Reuters; “Judge Approves Anadarko’s $5.15 Billion Settlement,” Wall Street Journal).
Secured declination of criminal investigation and defending Southern California Edison and Edison International in all civil litigation arising out of the 2017 Thomas Fire and 2018 Montecito mudslides. The fire, the largest in California history at the time, allegedly caused over two dozen deaths, destroyed over 1,000 structures, damaged over 250 structures, and burned over 280,000 acres. Our roles include defense of all civil litigation and consultation and engagement with regulatory and investigatory agencies.
Representing the State of Hawaii and advising the governor and attorney general concerning the state’s enormous responsibilities in the wake of the 2023 Maui fire, one of the largest natural disasters in state’s history with over 100 confirmed deaths. Lead counsel in the design and creation of a uniquely tailored $175 million fund for families of the wildfire victims. Organized various defendants to participate in the Fund, which will provide quick and certain relief to wrongful death and personal injury plaintiffs who choose to opt in. Developing a follow-on Fund to resolve the property and lost income claims and assisting in drafting legislation in response to the wildfires. Our role also includes supervision and involvement in all investigations, which have included representation of the state’s witnesses who testified at the congressional hearings investigating the cause of the catastrophic wildfires.
Obtained dismissal of all felony federal charges, including conspiracy, false statements, and Clean Water Act charges, after four years of investigation and litigation against a subsidiary of Waste Management, America’s largest environmental services provider, and two of its managers.
Prevailed after trial in a constitutional challenge to the nation’s most restrictive commercial land use ordinance. Known as Measure R, the ordinance would have required voter approval of all commercial development projects larger than 20,000 square feet in Malibu and imposed limits on the proportion of chain stores in any new development. (See “2 Names Familiar in Malibu Battle Over Anti-Development Measure,” The New York Times; “Judge overrules Malibu voters, clearing the way for Whole Foods Shopping Center,” Los Angeles Times).
Won over $40 million to date for Navajo Nation in CERCLA and tort action against the United States Environmental Protection Agency and other responsible parties with regard to exposure of the Navajo Nation’s people, water, and lands to contaminants from the August 2015 Gold King Mine spill. (See “Navajo Nation Sues EPA Over Gold King Mine Spill,” Law360; “Navajo Nation Sues EPA over Toxic Mine Spill,” CNN).
Defending Multi-National Technology Company in a multi-jurisdictional investigation led by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), alleging violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) with respect to four product types. The EPA has also involved the Department of Justice in these matters.
Defending PacifiCorp against numerous lawsuits in multiple jurisdictions across Oregon and California arising out of the 2020 Labor Day Fires. The fires burned over 500,000 acres across at least five counties in Oregon and California and allegedly destroyed over 2,000 structures and multiple deaths. Our roles include defense of all civil litigation and consultation and engagement with regulatory and investigatory agencies.
Obtained a dismissal with prejudice of all claims for Ecobat, the global leader in battery recycling and lead production, in tort litigation alleging over $80 million in damages arising from the company’s operation of a facility in Southern California.
Defeated California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) challenges to a proposed residential development by Las Vegas developer Marnell Corrao Associates and recovered 100 percent of attorneys’ fees.
Secured declinations of criminal investigations of two cruise lines without assessment of fine or penalty for allegedly dumping oily wastewater
Secured termination of a criminal investigation against a high-level executive of a manufacturing company alleged to have allowed improper disposal of waste byproducts.
Successfully negotiated agreements for voluntary uranium waste remediation for Navajo Nation with the EPA and numerous mining companies and organized U.S. congressional hearings that resulted in additional government initiatives and remediation of uranium contamination.
Representing Quanta Services, the largest provider of infrastructure services for electric power, pipeline, industrial and communications industries in the United States. Advising regarding environmental mass tort defenses and potential company collateral duties, responsibilities and issues.
Successfully represented one of the largest agricultural businesses in California regarding criminal environmental charges of using contaminated water for agricultural purposes.