Environmental Litigation, Enforcement Defense, and Dispute Resolution

The members of Robinson+Cole’s Environmental Litigation and Enforcement Group routinely represent clients involved in private litigation and government enforcement matters in New England and across the country. Our litigation experience ranges from statutory actions under state and federal programs, to common law claims involving contaminated properties. We have litigated issues under a full range of environmental laws, including the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the Clean Water Act (CWA), the Clean Air Act (CAA), the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), and others, including their state equivalents. We also have handled numerous toxic tort matters, including mold, lead paint, and asbestos litigation. Combining experience from Robinson & Cole attorneys skilled in product liability, class actions, and OSHA matters, we bring a mix of talents and a team approach to defending toxic tort claims. As the needs of a particular environmental matter dictate, we also work closely with other firm practices, including Real Estate, Corporate, Bankruptcy and Reorganization, White Collar Defense, and Tax.

Our litigators have broad experience representing clients involved in a variety of government enforcement actions, from agency and grand jury investigations to civil and criminal proceedings under federal and state environmental laws. When companies are confronted with serious compliance matters or whistle-blower complaints, our lawyers have conducted efficient and effective internal investigations. If issues are identified within an organization, we endeavor to resolve matters promptly and cost-effectively.

Our Environmental Litigation and Enforcement Capabilities Include:
• Managing all aspects of environmental and toxic tort litigation, including trials and appeals
• Experience defending civil and criminal enforcement actions in state and federal courts
• Rapid response to workplace exposures, spills and releases, search warrants, and other emergencies
• Proficiency with the scientific and technical aspects of environmental cases
• A well-developed network of outside consultants and experts skilled in a host of complex environmental issues
• Experience conducting efficient and effective internal investigations
• In-House capability for cost-effective information management and e-discovery

    • Experience
      • Represented ship operator in defense of Clean Water Act violation.
      • Represented a manufacturing company in an environmental enforcement action involving claims of illegal storage and disposal of hazardous waste.
      • Common Counsel

      • Counseled a large, privately held manufacturing client, and served as liaison counsel for other liable parties, in a project involving a contaminated municipal water supply well, regional and on-site ground water investigation and remediation efforts, on-site soils investigation and remediation, a mediated allocation process, contribution litigation, a natural resource damages settlement, and defense of toxic torts.

      • Selected (and approved by the court) as common counsel for a group of third party generator defendants at a waste oil refinery site at which plaintiffs sought injunctive relief through a RCRA citizens suit, response costs under state and federal law, and diminution of property value under common law theories.

      • Served as liaison counsel to a group of 25 responsible parties in connection with a former barrel reclamation site, negotiating an Administrative Order on Consent with EPA for a PCB removal action, working with contractors to implement the removal action, and simultaneously addressing state requirements for site-wide investigation and remediation.

      • Co-common counsel at Midwestern Superfund site responsible for organizing the parties, negotiating cash-out agreements, and ensuring timely and cost-effective performance of a removal action at an abandoned waste oil facility.

      • Environmental Litigation

      • Lead counsel for a drum recycling company in a CERCLA action at a dioxin-contaminated sediment site where past and projected costs exceeded $150 million. After over 8 years of litigation with the major liable party, EPA and several government military defendants involving more than 30 expert witnesses, we secured an ability to pay settlement shortly before trial.

      • Defended the purchaser of a nuclear power plant in an action seeking to prevent the transfer of environmental permits. Plaintiffs application for a temporary restraining order was denied shortly before the deal closed, and the suit was ultimately dismissed.

      • Defended a Fortune 500 company in a $250 million, 400-member class action in Colorado state court involving claims of indoor air, groundwater and soil contamination. Matter settled for less than 10 percent of original claim.

      • Recovered response costs and EPA oversights costs on behalf of manufacturing client in trial of CERCLA action against an uncooperative liable party.

      • Represented owner of commercial property in successfully obtaining an injunction and damages resulting from soil and groundwater contamination coming from company on neighboring property.

      • Defended lessee of bulk fuel oil terminal in dispute over the condition of the tanks and ancillary equipment following termination of the lease.

      • Defended gasoline distributor in defense of wrongful death claims arising from building explosion allegedly caused by free-phase gasoline on groundwater table.

      • Defended insurance carrier in coverage dispute for denial of landfill operating permits.

      • Counseled former owner of mid-western manufacturing facility in defense of state enforcement actions for site investigation and remediation and in negotiations with current facility owner.

      • Environmental Counseling and Dispute Resolution

      • Represented client in multiparty allocation of landfill cleanup costs, successfully advocating for use of contribution proceeds to serve as means to correct interim allocation inequities.

      • Represented client in landfill allocation and EPA consent decree negotiations, including negotiation of carve out of activities to be performed by uncooperative liable parties.

      • Counseled a large, privately held manufacturing client in a project involving a contaminated municipal water supply well, and regional and onsite ground water investigation and remediation, and on-site RCRA Corrective Action.

      • Assisted insurance carrier in damages evaluation for a catastrophic fire loss at a regional composting facility, working with composting, waste management, and engineering experts to determine operational value and replacement cost.

      • Served as environmental counsel to insurance carrier in a multimillion-dollar property insurance claim for anthrax contamination at a tabloid newspaper publisher's headquarters.

      • Environmental Litigation

      • Defended law firm in malpractice action alleging failure to advise client about environmental disclosure requirements of the property transfer law.

      • Defended a razor blade manufacturer against common law claims brought by the owner of the former National Oil Services site in West Haven, Connecticut.

      • Represented gasoline dealer and distributor in multidistrict litigation arising from alleged contamination of drinking water supplies with Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE).

      • Secured favorable jury verdict in nuisance case against confined animal feeding operation.

      • Other Experiences

      • Defended multimedia enforcement action brought by the Office of the Attorney General on behalf of the Connecticut DEP. Alleged violations involve process discharge water, noncontact cooling water, waste, air, and stormwater issues.

      • Represented manufacturing client in defense of enforcement action by state agency for alleged hazardous waste, property transfer, and water pollution control act violations. Negotiated a comprehensive settlement and assisted in preparation of site characterization work plans and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) closure plan.

      • Represented ship operator in defense of Clean Water Act violation.

      • Representation of a diversified aerospace company in response to OSHA citations. One citation was dismissed completely. The other was settled by withdrawal of "willful" citation. Penalty reduced to $16,500. Appeal handled out of New York Regional Solicitor's Office.

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    • News
      • November 1, 2016

        Robinson+Cole Receives 34 First-Tier Metropolitan Rankings and 3 National Rankings in Latest U.S. News – Best Law Firms Survey

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        • View article
      • July 28, 2016

        Former Partner Returns to Robinson+Cole’s Environmental and Energy Practice

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        • View article
      • February 26, 2015

        Environmental Lawyers Publish Article on Lessons from Deepwater Horizon

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      • December 28, 2012

        Peter Knight Authors Chapter on Environmental Class Actions

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      • December 22, 2011

        Partners Discuss Environmental Class Action Case at Boston Bar Association

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    • Publications + Presentations
    • EPA Launches eDisclosure Portal and Modifies FOIA Presumption, co-authored by Earl W. Phillips Jr., Robert S. Melvin, Megan E. Baroni and Jonathan H. Schaefer (Dec 2015)

      "Mass Tort Claims Administration and Handling: Lessons from Deepwater Horizon," published in Environmental Litigation, co-authored by Alexander W. Judd and Peter R. Knight, a publication of the ABA (Winter 2015)
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Our Team