Environmental Litigation

With well over three decades of combined experience, our litigators have represented clients in all aspects of environmental litigation, with particular emphasis on cost recovery and contribution actions under the federal and state Superfund statutes (aka CERCLA and HSAA). They also handle actions involving other federal and state environmental laws, including RCRA, Porter-Cologne and Proposition 65. Our litigators have represented a wide variety of clients, including individuals, “mom and pop” companies, Fortune 500 companies and municipalities. Their clients have included landowners, tenants, business operators, municipal service providers and lenders, offering them a uniquely well-rounded perspective and ability to devise and implement highly-successful strategies.

Representative Experience:

• Represented owner of bulk oil storage facility in mediation of two related-cases involving impacts from a prior owner’s operations.

• Represented a Northern California city in a complex, multi-party, soil and groundwater contamination case brought pursuant to CERCLA.

• Represented a municipality in an action involving alleged PCE contamination of the soil and groundwater at an active printing press site, brought pursuant to HSAA.

• Prosecuted claims on behalf of a Northern California water district against adjacent landowners for contamination of multiple drinking water reservoirs.

• Represented landowner in CERCLA cost recovery action involving former dry cleaner site.

• Represented fireworks manufacturer in defense of complex, multi-party, perchlorate contamination litigation in multiple United States District Court actions.

• Successfully settled a CERCLA action brought on behalf of a Southern California landowner against multiple landowners and tenants.

•    Defended California subsidiaries of a national grocery chain against audit and notices of violation pursued by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, achieving a low five-figure settlement in a matter involving millions of dollars of potential penalties.

• Represented multiple product manufacturers and retailers in defense of notices of violation asserted by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation involving alleged unlawful pesticide sales.

• Represented former dry cleaners in CERCLA contribution action asserted by landowner.

• Represented retailer in defense of Proposition 65 action for failure to warn of health risks arising from exposure to hazardous substances.

• Represented Southern California water purveyor in defense of water rights dispute involving litigation of Native American water interests.

• Represented major defendant in successful mediation of multimillion dollar CERCLA contribution action involving Colorado mining town.

• Represented lender that acquired contaminated property in borrower’s bankruptcy proceeding, including representation before the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board.

• Represented Redding-area former property owner in defense of responsible party order proposed by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board.

• Lead counsel for defendants in multiple environmental criminal enforcement actions brought by the California Environmental Circuit Prosecutors.

• Served as lead counsel for large state contractor in a California Department of Health audit dispute, achieving zero reimbursement victory for client.

Enforcement Orders and Voluntary Cleanup Projects

The potential cost of environmental investigation and remediation can be staggering and can continue for decades following the discovery of a hazardous substance release. Our attorneys negotiate with regulatory agencies, other responsible parties, impacted neighbors, and insurance companies to manage and contain these costs.  We have a long history assisting clients in the defense and settlement of claims asserted by local, state and federal governments, including representing clients through the administrative proceedings process and negotiating work required under cleanup and abatement orders, cease and desist orders, unilateral administrative orders, stipulated judgments, and consent decrees. With a focus on minimizing the risks of liability and implementing cost-effective strategies, we engage applicable regulatory agencies to establish an appropriate scope of investigation, cleanup goals, and cost effective remedies. We have successfully contested proposed enforcement orders and have resolved administrative actions through tactical representation and negotiations, all with an eye toward minimizing liability for our clients. Additionally, our environmental lawyers routinely defend clients against government inspections, administrative audits, and notices of violation. Our extensive experience includes representing clients before the federal Environmental Protection Agency, California Environmental Protection Agency, California Department of Toxic Substances Control, State Water Resources Control Board, Regional Water Quality Control Boards, California Air Resources Board, Department of Fish and Game, California Department of Pesticide Regulation, California Department of Resources Recycling & Recovery and others.  Based upon our extensive experience in environmental remediation projects, we are uniquely equipped to help our clients identify potential environmental liability exposure and address any problems in the most timely and cost-effective manner possible.

Representative Experience:

• Assisted a municipal client in investigating and remediating a regional PCE plume released from multiple third party facilities and obtained significant Cleanup and Abatement Account grant funds to finance the multi-year project.

• Advised client regarding evacuation of a warehouse facility caused by hydrogen sulfide releases and managed the subsequent investigation and remediation as well as employee notices and concerns.

• Represented property owner in a DTSC enforcement action involving hexalvalent chromium and arsenic impacts caused by historic wood treatment activities.

• Assisted developer client to obtain grant funding from the Orphan Site Cleanup Fund for remediation of Stoddard Solvent releases from historic, third dry cleaning operations.

• Negotiated a deed restriction with the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board for a property owner client in connection with residual free product at a petroleum site and obtained a No Further Action letter.

Environmental Due Diligence and Brownfields

An increasingly complicated web of environmental laws and regulations has proliferated from all levels of government giving rise to the need for environmental due diligence in a broad array of business transactions.  We assist buyers, sellers, lenders, insureds, lessees and landlords in determining environmental risks associated with transactions and then drafting and negotiating contractual provisions to appropriately allocate the risk and successfully close transactions.

We also have deep experience in both buying and selling suspected or known environmentally impacted real estate (“Brownfields”) while minimizing the risk of our clients.  We know how to structure deals; negotiate cleanup goals, closure criteria and liability protection with state and federal agencies; and customize environmental liability insurance coverage to allow our clients to realize their goals.

Representative Experience:

• Represented a buyer of a former railyard facility, including placement of pollution legal liability and cost cap insurance policies, for a commercial shopping center.

• Assisted client in the early transfer of a former naval shipyard property with significant residual contamination including metals, solvents, hydrocarbons and PCBs for redevelopment as an educational facility.

• Assisted public parks client in the expansion of their land holdings through the early transfer of a former naval weapons storage property.

• Represented potential purchaser of blighted property in negotiating prospective purchaser agreement with the Department of Toxic Substances Control.