Overview

Katten's Environmental Civil Litigation group understands the challenges that companies face when navigating the maze of federal, state and local environmental laws in their daily operations. We defend clients ranging from privately owned businesses to Fortune 50 companies in state and federal courts and before environmental and safety regulatory agencies.

Broad capabilities

Our clients operate in a variety of industries, including oil and gas, energy, chemical, refining, manufacturing, construction and transportation. We defend them in agency enforcement, citizen suits and private litigation arising under such statutes as the:

  • Clean Water Act
  • Clean Air Act
  • Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
  • Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act
  • Occupational Safety and Health Act
Managing the aftermath of a significant accident

Following a major environmental or workplace safety accident, companies often face both civil litigation from the surrounding community or injured workers and investigation by various government agencies. Our attorneys recognize that the inevitable surge of civil litigation can have consequences beyond just the financial, and we know how to mount a multifaceted defense that addresses these competing demands, even as our clients return to normal operations.

Government insight

Many of our litigators come from backgrounds in various government agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice. This gives us a deep knowledge of the statutes and a good feel for which administrative policies are currently in favor. Because we understand what the agencies are looking for, we have a strong track record of resolving matters out of court. But whether we settle early or try the matter to verdict, our clients rely on us to find the strategy most likely to achieve their goals.

Experience

  • Civil enforcement
  • Represent an oil and gas company under investigation for violations of state and federal statutes related to impacts on migratory birds.
  • Represented multinational super-major integrated oil and gas company in the issuance and appeal of a BSEE incident of non-compliance regarding a crane issue on an offshore rig. We provided legal research and analysis regarding regulatory and civil exposure, retained and interviewed expert witnesses, performed legal and factual analysis for the appeal, negotiated with BSEE and the Solicitor's Office, and advised on the company's legal strategy.
  • Represent global leader in specialty chemicals in federal civil and criminal investigations arising out of an alleged failure to operate pollution control equipment at a wastewater treatment facility.
  • Represent leading lawn and garden manufacturer in resolving a nationwide civil FIFRA claim and RCRA claims at a packaging facility.
  • Superfund
  • Represented PRP in one of the largest Superfund sites since the enactment of CERCLA. We represented a waste management company, a target PRP, in negotiations with other PRPs and managed private cost-recovery actions against recalcitrant PRPs which contributed to the subject groundwater contamination.
  • Represent joint defense group in state Superfund litigation related to cleanup of construction and demolition waste facility in Texas.
  • Defense of California landfill operator against thousands of plaintiffs' tort claims. Appointed liaison counsel by 55 defendant chemical manufacturers, waste management companies and water purveyors on issues concerning pre-trial and trial proceedings. Majority of plaintiffs' causes of action were dismissed on early motion practice.
  • Represent client in contribution action in federal court alleging "arranger" liability under federal and state Superfund statutes involving former barge-cleaning facility in Freeport, Texas.
  • Toxic tort
  • Defended major petroleum exporter and marketer against claims that long-term occupational exposure to benzene and related chemical components of aromatic hydrocarbon and other petroleum distillate products it allegedly distributed caused plaintiff to develop acute myelogenous leukemia. We mounted an aggressive defense through the discovery phase and obtained an extremely favorable settlement for the client.
  • Defended California waste management company in a highly publicized neighborhood toxic tort action alleging personal injuries, including cancer, emotional distress, property damage (specifically "stigma," "advertising injury" and loss of use) and fear of cancer resulting from the operation of the Sunshine Canyon Landfill in Sylmar, California. Through the combination of a court-issued case management order, depositions, a successful motion for summary adjudication, plaintiff relinquishment of rights to make certain claims, and a hearing on general and specific causation pursuant to Cottle v. Superior Court, obtained dismissal of all claims.
  • Defended one of the world's largest suppliers of fresh and prepared produce against allegations by more than 6,000 plaintiffs—former agricultural workers resident in Honduras, Panama, Nicaragua and Guatemala—that the use of nematode pesticides in foreign jurisdictions caused sterility and birth defects. The numerous claims were consolidated into four cases filed in California Superior Court. Following significant discovery and motion practice, all claims were dismissed on a variety of procedural and substantive grounds. *
  • Defended American conglomerate against claims raised by a worker who alleged his kidney failure was a consequence of exposure to solvents and other chemicals during the course of his employment. The matter was resolved by a de minimis settlement.
  • Citizen suit defense
  • Represented client in federal court case in Fort Smith, Arkansas, against claims of violation of RCRA hazardous waste requirements against an aircraft refurbishing facility. Resulted in jury verdict dismissing all counts against defendants.
  • Represent client on multi-state Toxic Substances Control Act enforcement case involving alleged violation of PCB rules and disclosure of violations under the EPA’s Audit Policy with no resulting gravity-based penalties.
  • Represent municipal clients in government and citizen suit enforcement actions under Clean Water Act relating to public infrastructure upgrades of wastewater collection systems of the City of Los Angeles, City of Oakland, and City and County of Honolulu.
* Experience prior to Katten