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Environmental Litigation

Kasowitz’s Environmental Litigation Practice Group has extensive experience in the prosecution and defense of complex environmental litigation and in representing clients in regulatory proceedings concerning industrial, post-industrial, and disposal sites requiring cleanup or other actions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and other federal and state laws. Our lawyers have also successfully defended companies and executives in criminal actions alleging violation of environmental laws and regulations in both federal and state courts.

The firm is national counsel for environmental litigation and regulatory remediation for Fortune 500 and other companies in the chemical, mining and metal refining, natural gas, and other manufacturing and distribution industries. We work closely with clients and environmental engineers, toxicologists, and remediation experts to develop cost-effective abatement and remedial action work plans and to aggressively litigate claims when necessary. We also have extensive experience in the oversight of environmental health and safety audits and reviews, the creation of effective audit and compliance management systems, and the analysis of and litigation regarding environmental insurance programs.

Our attorneys speak on environmental issues before numerous industry organizations, including the Occupational Safety & Health Administration Voluntary Protection Programs (OSHA VPP) Participants Association and the Northeast Environmental Prosecution Project, and have also served as president and chairman of a large advocacy organization consisting of over 30 major corporations focused on civil and criminal environmental enforcement issues.

Notable representations include:

  • Southern Union Company, a natural gas provider, in four consolidated environmental contamination suits brought by 200 residents of Tiverton, Rhode Island, who alleged personal injuries, property damage, and other consequential losses from contamination of residential soil by cyanide, arsenic, lead, tar, and other pollutants.  Plaintiffs claimed the pollutants were deposited on their land more than 50 years ago.
  • Waste Management of Florida in a cost recovery action for a substantial cleanup brought by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).  After taking the FDEP’s expert’s deposition, the FDEP agreed to voluntarily dismiss its case with prejudice, without any payment of monies.
  • 3,500 Alabama Residents, in what The Washington Post described as a “huge victory in a landmark environmental lawsuit” against Monsanto Company and its successor Solutia. This massive case concerned decades of PCB pollution in the vicinity of a Monsanto plant in Anniston, Alabama. After a 17-month jury trial in which the firm obtained $100 million in jury verdicts for a portion of the plaintiffs, the case ultimately settled with the firm’s clients receiving $170 million (after costs and fees). 
  • Allied Waste Industries in defense of the claims of several hundred residents of a rural community for wrongful death, personal injuries, and property damage as the result of alleged groundwater contamination near a sanitary landfill in Texas.
  • Southern Union Company in the defense of individual and class action claims for personal injury and property damage arising from an alleged mercury contamination. 
  • Representation of a national bridge-financing company in the successful disposition of environmentally compromised property, formerly operating as a hot-dip galvanizing facility in Robstown, Texas.
  • Triple A Machine Shop in defense of an EPA and California Department of Toxic Substances Control action asserting CERCLA and RCRA claims relating to the Casmalia Disposal Facility.
  • Celanese Chemicals in defense of the claims of numerous workers for wrongful death, personal injuries and property damage as the result of alleged soil and groundwater contamination related to solar evaporation ponds. 
  • Successfully defended a corporate president in the first criminal hazardous waste dumping case brought to trial in New York State resulting in an acquittal on all charges arising under the environmental laws and regulations.
  • Celanese in defense of over 600 claims for personal injury and property damages resulting from alleged airborne release of toxic chemicals from a hazardous waste dump.
  • Celanese in defense of thousands of claims in Texas and Louisiana for personal injury and property damages resulting from alleged airborne release of toxic chemicals from railcars.
  • Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, the exclusive retail electric service provider for the Hawaiian island of Kauai, in an investigation and pending criminal and civil cases relating to alleged violations of federal endangered species statutes.
  • Appleton Papers Inc. (API) to recover from its comprehensive liability insurance companies for environmental liabilities arising from contamination of the Fox River in Wisconsin (one of the largest CERCLA sites in the country) with cleanup costs that could exceed $600 million. API was sued by its general liability insurers in a declaratory judgment action in Wisconsin. At trial, the jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of API. The court of appeals has since affirmed the jury verdict in its entirety.
  • Exxon Mobil in several environmental matters, both as plaintiff’s counsel and as defense counsel, in cases involving liability or contribution for environmentally impacted property (including groundwater).
  • Anadarko Petroleum in litigation concerning the failure of North Sea wells.
  • Representation of a large ink and pigment manufacturer in matters related to groundwater contamination, superfund sites, and related CERCLA liabilities.
  • Southern Natural Gas Company in litigation concerning liabilities for off shore wells in Louisiana, Mississippi and international waters.