Steven Humphreys concentrates his practice on all aspects of environmental law and related counseling of businesses. He advises businesses in regulatory compliance and management of environmental risk in matters arising under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and various other federal, state and local environmental laws, as well as the environmental aspects of business transactions.
Steven represents purchasers and sellers of contaminated or potentially contaminated and “brownfields” properties in transactions involving single and multiple properties, both in the U.S. and abroad. He counsels lenders and borrowers in commercial loan transactions and loan workouts. Steven offers particular skill in developing strategies for the identification, management and allocation of environmental risk in business transactions, including the use of environmental insurance products, guaranteed remediation contracts and governmental liability protections to offset risk.
Moreover, Steven represents owners of real property seeking to manage environmental liabilities through voluntary cleanup programs and property transfer laws such as the New Jersey Industrial Site Recovery Act. He has experience retaining and managing environmental engineering firms, including response action contractors, for projects involving the investigation and remediation of contaminated property.
Another aspect of Steven’s practice involves the representation of clients in prosecuting and defending claims under the federal Superfund law (CERCLA) and comparable state statutes for recovery of costs associated with cleaning up environmental contamination at various types of industrial and commercial properties. Steven has also represented corporate clients regarding regulatory enforcement actions and/or obligations arising under CERCLA, RCRA, the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), and various state and local environmental laws. In addition, Steven has represented corporate clients and property owners in the prosecution of several insurance recovery cases, leading to the recovery of millions of dollars in proceeds under insurance policies for environmental-related damages and losses.
Furthermore, Steven’s practice includes counseling clients in a wide range of compliance issues arising under federal and state environmental laws, primarily with regard to hazardous waste regulation and water and air permitting matters. He has participated in the development of significant federal rulemakings under CERCLA and RCRA, through the submission of comments on behalf of affected parties.
Notably, Steven’s ability to distill complex information into easily understood action items for his clients is supported by his extensive legal and analytical abilities. Steven has written numerous articles on various environmental law issues, including environmental considerations in real estate and corporate transactions, criminal enforcement of environmental laws and hazardous waste cleanup cost recovery. He also is a frequent speaker at conferences and seminars on environmental law topics. His recent speaking engagements have included such topics as “Water Rights and Resource Management,” “Buying and Selling Contaminated Properties” and “New York’s Brownfields Cleanup Program.”
Serve as judge for environmental law moot court competitions.
Patriots' Path Council of Boy Scouts of America, board of Directors
Basketball coach for extramural youth league
Served as liaison counsel to a mid-tier group of 18 potentially responsible parties (PRPs) at the Mattiace Petrochemical Superfund Site in Glen Cove, NY, bringing the group’s potential liability to a settlement that included an innovative remediation contractor liability buy-out for future costs, the first-ever such arrangement accepted by EPA Region II headquarters at a federal Superfund site.
Represented individual PRPs and/or defendants at the Combe Fill South Landfill Superfund Site in Chester, NJ; Burlington Environmental Management Services Superfund Site in Burlington County, NJ; Maryland Sand and Gravel Superfund Site in Elkton, MD; Bypass 601 Superfund Site in Concorde, NC; ILCO Superfund Site in Leeds, AL; Neals Landfill Superfund Site in Monroe County, IN; and Parker Landfill Superfund Site in Lyndon, VT.
Prosecuted and defended New Jersey Spill Act cost recovery claims on behalf of a developer in two cases involving nine chromium-contaminated sites in Hudson County, NJ.
Regulatory Enforcement Actions
Represented a plumbing products manufacturer in a civil complaint by the L.A. City Attorney's office, pertaining to stormwater discharges.
Represented a plumbing products manufacturer in a civil complaint by the EPA Region IX, involving alleged violations of SARA Title III.
Represented a consumer electronics, lighting and home appliances company in an appeal of a state water discharge permit matter before the Indiana Supreme Court, resulting in the reversal of two lower court rulings. (Case reported at 614 N.E.2d 916 (Ind. 1993)).
Represented property owners and responsible parties in contaminated site remediation projects arising under state cleanup and/or property-transfer statutes, including sites located in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, District of Columbia, Illinois, Texas and Florida.
Represented corporate clients in enforcement actions brought under various federal and state environmental laws, including the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, RCRA, FIFRA, New Jersey Toxic Catastrophe Prevention Act, New York pesticide law, South Carolina air pollution control law, Florida underground storage tank law, California “Proposition 65” law and District of Columbia underground storage tank law.
Represented the debtor in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding in defense of claims by the United States and Rhode Island totaling more than $90 million in response costs under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act and comparable state law. Steven successfully settled both claims for a one-time payment of $411,000, all of which, as well as all defense costs, were recovered in a separate claim by Steven against the insurance carrier on behalf of the debtor.
Successfully sued the insurers of a client in a coverage dispute pertaining to environmental liabilities at several contaminated sites in New Jersey, resulting in a settlement in excess of $1 million.
Successfully defended corporate clients in a wide range of administrative enforcement actions arising under a variety of environmental statutes, including the federal Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and equivalent state statutes.
Debt Restructuring, Foreclosure and Bankruptcy
Steven has provided environmental counseling services to assist with numerous loan workouts and debt restructurings involving environmentally distressed properties, as well as foreclosure actions and bankruptcy reorganization.
Represented a creditors committee comprised of lenders in the establishment of a $110 million revolving credit facility, as part of a debt restructuring for lender creditors of a textile manufacturer in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy. As part of this representation, Steven negotiated a $25 million aggregate environmental insurance policy that served to provide comfort for secured lenders regarding potential environmental remediation liabilities at mortgaged properties, allowing the restructuring to go forward.
Represented the lender in securing obligations of a property owner to complete an environmental remediation of, and provide contractual assurances to, the purchaser of the property abandoned by the borrower/tenant in a bankruptcy proceeding and in a foreclosure action on behalf of the client.
Counseled the lender in a foreclosure action on a brownfields redevelopment project in New York City.
Counseled the lender in a foreclosure action on a shopping center in Indiana contaminated with perchloroethylene.
Represented the lender in negotiations with a defaulted borrower and the prior owner of a contaminated industrial property located in Virginia to obtain a deed in lieu of a foreclosure and tripartite settlement agreement providing for the completion of remediation and sale of the property.
Other Relevant Experience
Advised a telecommunications company in connection with regulatory responsibilities arising under the Occupational Safety and Health Act relating to asbestos-containing materials.
Negotiated a liability transfer program for a major pharmaceutical manufacturer that included the acquisition of a finite-risk environmental insurance policy to absorb all environmental risks associated with the transfer of a large manufacturing facility campus. This transaction included a complete buy-out by the purchaser of the property of all known environmental liabilities and unknown environmental risk associated with the property (both off-site and on-site), with the purchaser's indemnity obligation effectively secured by the finite risk insurance policy.
Negotiated a guaranteed remediation contract providing for the assumption of all responsibility for remediating a large plume of chlorinated solvent contamination under a shopping center on behalf of a lender. Also negotiated relevant financing documents pertaining to the guaranteed remediation contract.
As counsel to the trustee of a Liquidating Trust created by the bankruptcy of a former steel manufacturing concern, successfully litigated against a former owner of a steel manufacturing facility in order to enforce its contractual obligations to remediate chlorinated solvent contamination at the property, and assisted with the ultimate disposition through the sale of the property.
As counsel to a major petroleum manufacturing and distribution company, negotiated environmental provisions in Purchase and Sale Agreements for a gasoline station portfolio divestiture project, and was involved in evaluating and advising on select aspects of the corresponding risk transfer agreements, related environmental insurance and underlying escrow arrangements. The Purchase and Sale Agreements contemplated alternative scenarios where, post-Purchase and Sale Agreement execution, either a risk transfer agreement would be entered into and environmental insurance would be obtained, or the purchasers would assume at closing most known and unknown environmental liability exposure.
Represented indigent plaintiff in complaint against District of Columbia for mishandling of deceased son's corpse.
American Bar Association, Section on Natural Resources, Energy and Environmental Law
New Jersey State Bar Association, Environmental Law Section
Federal Bar Association, Section on Environment, Energy and Natural Resources, Environmental Law Committee, former chairman