Peter R. Knight



  • Overview


    Peter Knight is a member of the firm's Environmental, Energy + Telecommunications Group, where he focuses on litigation, defense of agency enforcement actions, and regulatory matters. He regularly assists clients with private cost recovery and complex multiparty Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) cases and class actions, as well as environmental remediation projects. He also represents a variety of coastal and maritime interests in connection with large vessel casualties, oil spills and emergency response, criminal enforcement, and counseling on U.S. Coast Guard regulatory matters.

    Environmental Litigation and Enforcement

    Peter has represented clients in complex environmental and energy litigation matters across the United States. These claims typically are brought under a variety of federal and state statutes, including CERCLA, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. He has represented Fortune 500 companies in connection with the defense and prosecution of CERCLA cost recovery and contribution claims, including claims brought against the United States in connection with historical wartime operations. Peter's experience defending agency enforcement matters includes civil and criminal enforcement actions involving both land-based facilities and commercial shipping interests. A number of his maritime matters have involved major vessel casualties, including open water and coastal oil spills as well as container ship fires and explosions. His class action experience includes both environmental, energy and toxic tort matters, as well as consumer products and false labeling cases.

    Environmental Counseling

    Peter represents and manages the interests of large and small Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs) at a number of Superfund sites across the country. He has both negotiated settlements and managed multiparty cases to resolution. He regularly works with clients on all manner of environmental legacy issues involving indemnity claims, historical liabilities, and remediation obligations. Peter also has advised companies on developing and implementing corporate compliance programs and environmental management systems. 

    Government Investigations

    Peter represents companies and individuals in a variety of government investigations. While most of these matters involve state and federal investigations of environmental and energy matters, he has also managed investigations headed by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Coast Guard, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. In many of these cases, which have spanned jurisdictions across the country, he typically works with the Environmental Crimes Section of the Department of Justice. Many of Peter's maritime matters have involved Coast Guard investigations and U.S. prosecution of claimed oil dumping by commercial shipping companies.

    Pro Bono

    Peter is the firm’s pro bono partner, a role which involves coordinating the firm’s pro bono initiatives, expanding the firm’s network of pro bono clients, and matching Robinson+Cole lawyers with pro bono opportunities. His own pro bono efforts focus on representing children in neglect and abuse cases through the firm’s long-standing relationship with Lawyers for Children America. Based on his many years of service to LFCA, the Connecticut Bar Association honored him with its Anthony V. DeMayo Pro Bono Award in 2016. Peter is also part of a team of firm attorneys involved in a pro bono project to combat poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking in Namibia, Myanmar, and Laos by strengthening the country’s legislative framework.

    Peter has written and presented on a number of topics related to environmental enforcement, environmental regulation of commercial shipping, environmental disclosures, and climate change litigation. Prior to joining the firm, he practiced in the environmental and utilities group at Dewey & LeBoeuf.

  • Experience
    • Experience


        Environmental Litigation

      • Represented transportation company in defense of an environmental class action jury trial in Massachusetts state court, one of the very few class action trials resulting from an environmental incident and, to our knowledge, the first environmental class action ever tried in Massachusetts. The case involved claims for property damage resulting from an oil spill in Buzzards Bay in 2003. The class was made up of approximately 1,000 residents from the Town of Mattapoisett who alleged their shoreline property was oiled as a result of the spill. The 2010 trial, which lasted two weeks, addressed the claims of eight individual class members. The jury ultimately awarded a very favorable result for the client. The results of these initial cases provided the parties with a basis to resolve the remaining claims.

      • Represented nuclear fuel manufacturer in Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) cost recovery claim against the United States. The facility was contaminated with highly enriched uranium as a result of contract work performed for the U.S. Navy in connection with the development of the nuclear submarine program. Our client recovered a substantial portion of its multi-million dollar site remediation costs from the Government. The cleanup was conducted under the auspices of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

      • Represented former nuclear fuel manufacturer based in Illinois in multiparty CERCLA cost recovery action brought by current facility owner against former operators and arrangers, including the United States. Current owner conducted multimillion-dollar site remediation and site closure to address a legacy of radiological contamination.

      • Evaluated potential litigation against upgradient manufacturing facility in connection with complex sediment site in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

      • Represented gasoline manufacturer in defense of claims brought be the State of Maryland in connection with MTBE contamination in groundwater. Achieved early dismissal of all claims based on history of importing product into the State.

      • Represent minerals manufacturer and mining operation in connection with the remediation of legacy mercury and PCB contamination. The facility was originally owned and operated by the United States, and specialty metals mined there were used to support war-time operations during World War II and the Korean Conflict. In addition to providing support on completing environmental remedial obligations, Robinson & Cole is representing the company in its cost recovery claim against the Government.

      • Environmental Enforcement

      • Represented multi-unit residential property manager in resolving an expansive Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) enforcement action brought by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) involving mandatory lead disclosures to tenants and maintenance work performed under the Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule.

      • Represent former facility operator in connection with legacy PCB issues at a manufacturing facility in Muncie, IN.  The Indiana Department of Environmental Management issued a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) order to former and current operators.

      • Represented nuclear fuel manufacturer at the Colorado School of Mines Research Institute site. Negotiated a favorable settlement with the State of Colorado to resolve claims brought against operators and arrangers to recover its costs at the former nuclear fuel research facility.

      • Represent former facility operator in connection with legacy solvent contamination in the form of a groundwater plume at a facility in Chico, CA.  The facility is subject to an order by the California Department of Toxic Substance Control.

      • Represented former facility operator in connection with the North Penn Area 5 Superfund site. Successfully established that the client's historical facility operations did not contribute to the groundwater plume that is the subject of the EPA action.

      • Advise former facility operator in connection with Clean Air Act issues associated with criminal enforcement case brought by the United States and EPA against current facility owner. Plea negotiations dovetailed with the facility’s acquisition and resulted in a negotiated resolution that allowed the transaction to be completed.

      • Maritime

      • Represent shipper of cargo on the MSC Flaminia, which experienced a major casualty in transit to Europe in 2012 resulting in crewmember deaths, lost cargo, and extensive vessel damage totaling over $200MM.  All claims have were consolidated in the Southern District of New York. After two separate liability phases involving six weeks of trial, the district court entered a finding of no liability for our client.

      • Represented tug and barge operator in connection with vessel explosion off of Staten Island. The EPA brought a claim against the operator under the Clean Water Act (CWA) due to resulting oil contamination. Our defense challenged the agency’s interpretation of “point source” under the CWA.

      • Represented commercial shipping company in the development and implementation of an environmental management system.  The EMS was a condition of the company’s probation arising out alleged criminal violations of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, which at the time resulted in the largest environmental criminal penalty in Massachusetts.  The client successfully completed its probation period without further government action.

      • Consumer Class Action Defense

      • Represented tea company in connection with consumer class action claims in California federal court.  The class representative brought claims alleging misleading packaging promoting health benefits of tea products.  The case settled after a series of successful dispositive motions.

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    • Professional Associations

      Professional Associations

      University of Connecticut School of Law
      Adjunct Professor

      Oliver Ellsworth American Inn of Court
    • Honors + Awards

      Honors + Awards

      Lawyers for Children America Pro Bono Service Honoree, 2019

      Connecticut Bar Association's Anthony V. DeMayo Pro Bono Award recipient, 2016

      Robinson+Cole Pro Bono Service Award Recipient, 2014

    • Community Involvement

      Community Involvement

      Lawyers for Children America
      Pro Bono Volunteer

      Connecticut Forest and Park Association
      Board of Directors
      Chair, Governance Committee

      Connecticut Legal Services, Inc.
      Board of Directors
    • Publications


      "COVID-19 and its Impact on the OSHA Inspection Process," co-authored with Jonathan H. Schaefer, Megan E. Baroni and Christopher Y. Eddy, published in ISHN (Industrial Safety & Hygiene News) (5/27/2021)

      "Combustible Dust and OSHA Inspections," co-authored with Megan E. Baroni, Christopher Y. Eddy and Jonathan H. Schaefer, published in EHS Today (4/19/2021)

      "Avoiding Dust- Ups with OSHA over NFPA 652 Compliance," co-authored with Jonathan H. Schaefer, Megan E. Baroni and Christopher Y. Eddy, published in the March issue of ISHN (Industrial Safety & Hygiene News)

      "Breaking the chain of “substantial continuity” — Tenth Circuit clarifies test for repeat OSHA violations," co-authored with Megan E. Baroni, Christopher Y. Eddy and Jonathan H. Schaefer, published in ISHN (Industrial Safety & Hygiene News) (2/10/2021)

      "COVID-19 and OSHA: Where we started and where we are now," co-authored with Megan E. Baroni, Christopher Y. Eddy, Jonathan H. Schaefer and Jonathan H. Schaefer, published in ISHN (Industrial Safety & Hygiene News) (1/7/2021)

      "The IMO 2020 Sulfur Cap in the United States: Compliance Issues," published in The Maritime Executive (3/19/2019)
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      "American attorneys partner to save endangered African wildlife," published in ABA Journal, co-authored with Megan E. Baroni, Kelsey A. Cross, Diana E. Neeves, Emily C. Deans, Byron D. Flagg and Alec Rubenstein (July 2017)

      "Regulatory Complexity and Ballast Water Management," published in The Maritime Executive, co-authored with Tavo T. True-Alcala (September 16, 2016)
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      "Mass Tort Claims Administration and Handling: Lessons from Deepwater Horizon," published in Environmental Litigation, co-authored with Alexander W. Judd, a publication of the ABA (Winter 2015)
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      "Certifying Environmental Class Actions After Walmart v. Dukes," published in Litigating Environmental Class Actions: Leading Lawyers on Successfully Guiding Clients Through Multi-Party Environmental Cases (11/29/2012)

      "The Indirect Regulation of Climate Change: Federal Agencies React to Congressional Inquiries," published in Bloomberg Corporate Law Journal, co-authored with Ronald W. Zdrojeski and David M. McCullough (Summer 2008)

      "Vessel and U.S. Port Emissions Update," published in MarineNews (12/2007)

      "Calls for Climate Change Reporting Prompt Companies to Evaluate Disclosure Policies," published in Law and Financial Markets Review (11/2007)

    • Presentations


      "Responding to Safety Complaints and Incidents – Case Studies," (10/8/2020)
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      "Lawyers Lending a Hand in Recovery," as part of the CWCSEO Small Business Matters Series of videos focusing on small businesses as the engine of growth in Connecticut. (6/12/2020)
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      "Advances in Climate Change Litigation," as part of an American Bar Association Roundtable discussion. (11/20/2019)
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      "Dredging and Environmental Issues," panelist, as part of the 2019 Port Administration and Legal Issues Seminar presented by the American Association of Port Authorities (2/12/2019)
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      "Preventing Wildlife Crimes in Namibia: An International Approach to Legislative Reform," co-presented with Megan E. Baroni, during a webcast sponsored by the American Bar Association (ABA) Section of State and Local Government Law's International Law Committee (10/23/2018)
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      "Discussion and Screening of The Ivory Game," co-presented with Megan E. Baroni, Suzanne C. Ferguson, Sorell E. Negro and Kelsey A. Cross, at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Miami, Florida (2/4/2017)
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      "CERCLA Consent Decrees," hosted roundtable discussion sponsored by the ABA's Environmental Litigation Committee (2/17/2016)
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    • News

      R+C in the News

      • May 28, 2021

        Megan Baroni, Chris Eddy, Peter Knight and Jon Schaefer Author ISHN Article on OSHA Inspections During COVID-19

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      • April 23, 2021

        Megan Baroni, Chris Eddy, Peter Knight and Jon Schaefer Author EHS Today Article on Combustible Dust and OSHA Inspections

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      • March 16, 2021

        Megan Baroni, Chris Eddy, Peter Knight and Jon Schaefer Author ISHN Article on Combustible Dust

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      • February 16, 2021

        Megan Baroni, Chris Eddy, Peter Knight and Jon Schaefer Author ISHN Article on Substantial Continuity Test

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      • January 11, 2021

        Megan Baroni, Chris Eddy, Peter Knight and Jon Schaefer Author ISHN Article on OSHA’s COVID-19 Response

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      • July 1, 2020

        Peter Knight Quoted in ABA Journal Article on COVID-19 Small Business Virtual Legal Clinic

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      • June 15, 2020

        Peter Knight Discusses Connecticut COVID-19 Small Business Virtual Legal Clinic During Small Business Matters Video Series

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      • May 20, 2020

        Peter Knight Featured on FOX 61 and in Connecticut Law Tribune About Connecticut COVID-19 Small Business Virtual Legal Clinic

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      • March 27, 2019

        Peter Knight Authors Article on Looming IMO 2020 Sulfur Cap

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      • February 18, 2019

        Peter Knight Speaks at Port Administration & Legal Issues Seminar

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      • October 30, 2018

        Megan Baroni and Peter Knight Present on Preventing Wildlife Crimes in Namibia

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      • October 24, 2018

        Robinson+Cole Lawyers Attend Interval House's Annual Breakfast With Champions

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      • June 7, 2018

        Environmental, Energy + Telecommunications Group Members Volunteer for Riverfront Recapture

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      • July 6, 2017

        Robinson+Cole's Namibia Pro Bono Project Featured in ABA Journal

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      • June 2, 2017

        Environmental + Utilities Group Members Volunteer to Keep Bushnell Park Beautiful

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      • May 26, 2017

        Robinson+Cole Lawyers Host Loomis Chaffee Students as Part of Alumni Shadow Day

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      • December 15, 2016

        Robinson+Cole's Namibia Pro Bono Project Featured in CLT

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      • February 24, 2016

        Peter Knight and Megan Baroni Conduct ABA Roundtable on CERCLA Consent Decrees

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      • February 26, 2015

        Environmental Lawyers Publish Article on Lessons from Deepwater Horizon

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      • October 16, 2013

        Environmental Lawyer Speaks at Global Shipping Conference in China

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      • December 28, 2012

        Peter Knight Authors Chapter on Environmental Class Actions

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      • February 1, 2012

        Environmental Partner Chairs ABA Panel 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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      • July 20, 2011

        Attorneys Peter Knight and Ronald Zdrojeski Quoted in Connecticut Law Tribune

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      • June 1, 2009

        Robinson & Cole Attorneys Coauthor Chapter in Climate Change Law Book

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      R+C News Releases

      • November 18, 2019

        Robinson+Cole Receives the Diana Kleefeld Pro Bono Award from Connecticut Appleseed

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      • September 27, 2019

        Peter Knight Honored for Providing Pro Bono Legal Services to Connecticut Children

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      • November 28, 2018

        Robinson+Cole Lawyers and Staff Volunteer with Junior Achievement

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      • May 21, 2018

        Robinson+Cole Recognized for Significant and Longstanding Dedication to Pro Bono Work

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      • November 21, 2017

        Peter Knight Appointed to Connecticut Legal Services’ Board of Directors

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      • October 25, 2016

        Robinson+Cole Lawyers Take Part in International Pro Bono Project to Combat Wildlife Crimes in Namibia

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      • May 3, 2016

        Robinson+Cole Lawyers Honored for Pro Bono Service

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      • June 24, 2015

        Robinson+Cole Lawyer Elected to Connecticut Forest & Park Association Board of Directors

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      • September 4, 2014

        Robinson+Cole Announces Annual Community Service and Pro Bono Awards

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      • June 21, 2013

        Local Organizations Recognize Robinson & Cole’s Pro Bono Service

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      • January 11, 2011

        Robinson & Cole Elects New Partners

    • Legal Updates/Newsletters

      Legal Updates/Newsletters

      "U.S. Supreme Court Clarifies Predicates to CERCLA Contribution Actions" (6/7/2021)

      "EPA Announces Termination of COVID-19 Enforcement Discretion Policy"

      "Environmental Enforcement Actions Could be Curtailed by New DOJ Policy" (2/14/2018)

      "EPA Report Addresses Voluntary Strategies for Reducing Air Pollution at U.S. Ports" co-authored with Tavo T. True-Alcala (October 14, 2016)