Businesses in certain industries, such as manufacturing and energy, and their insurers often count environmental liability among the most challenging and worrisome forms of legal liability they encounter. Government enforcement can lead to heavy fines, and lawsuits can lead to devastating financial damages and reputational harm.
Companies facing these risks turn to Epstein Becker Green because of our years of experience advising and representing manufacturers, oil and gas refineries, power producers, chemical companies, and others in complex, high-stakes environmental matters, including toxic tort and property contamination cases. Because our attorneys practice in some of the most heavily regulated regions in the country, we are well versed in the requirements and nuances of state and local environmental laws and regulations. We help clients defeat or limit the scope of an environmental case as efficiently as possible, taking into account their business needs and goals.
For many companies, compliance with manifold environmental laws, regulations, and standards is just the price of doing business. To protect our clients from liability, we identify and address potential areas of legal exposure in their business models and operations. We also advise and represent them if any environmental disputes occur, including:
- Litigation under federal and state Superfund and remediation laws
- Citizen suits under the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
- Permitting disputes with state and federal regulatory agencies
- Industrial, commercial, and residential land use development litigation
- Regulation of water utilities and energy companies and waste management lawsuits
- Actions under the National Environmental Policy Act and comparable state laws
- Water rights disputes
- Environmental liabilities arising from mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, and bankruptcy
- Property contamination claims
- Environmental insurance coverage actions (defense of insurers)
- Freedom of Information Act claims and the protection of trade secrets
We are experienced at defending clients in civil and criminal investigations and enforcement proceedings, as well as in class actions and other multi-party litigation.
In our complex world, toxic torts claims, such as allegations of exposure to chemicals or dangerous substances, are among the most common types of environmental lawsuits. Clients trust us to represent them in toxic tort litigation—including mass tort cases—involving asbestos- and silica-related claims, benzene exposure cases, and other personal injury claims. We litigate cases that require a thorough knowledge of epidemiology, toxicology, hydrogeology, and other scientific disciplines. In deposition and at trial, our toxic tort lawyers demonstrate a firm grasp of the chemical, engineering, scientific, and medical issues critical to the defense of the case. Clients rely on us to aggressively defend them in toxic tort litigation in state and federal courts throughout the nation. Our team includes seasoned trial lawyers who bring a combination of extensive preparation and creativity to the courtroom. And while we strive to prevail by summary judgment where possible, we are experienced trial attorneys who have no qualms about trying cases to verdict.
California’s Proposition 65
California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act (“Prop 65”) requires property and business owners to warn consumers, employees, and visitors about any of their products, facilities, or processes that expose them to certain levels of substances that California designates as leading to cancer or reproductive issues. Many of these substances only have to be present in barely detectable quantities to trigger the Prop 65 duty to warn, with heavy fines for every day of failure to comply. The law’s “bounty hunter” provision also allows citizens to bring suits without having to prove standing and gives them a portion of any civil penalties that may result without having to prove damages. In addition, Prop 65 prohibits the discharge of any listed chemicals into bodies of water.
We monitor changes in the law to keep clients informed of anything that would affect their business operations, such as chemicals being added to the list of duty-to-warn substances or changes to consumer product safety or testing requirements. We jump into action as soon as a client receives an Intent to Sue notice, working to prevent litigation, limit discovery, and fight hard in court, if necessary.
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