Our team helps clients address environmental litigation and related matters across the country—ranging from single landowner cost-recovery and property damage claims to some of the largest federal Superfund sites. We represent plaintiffs and defendants in a wide variety of disputes involving the environment, including insurance disputes, cost-recovery actions, contribution actions, Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Clean Water Act (CWA) and Oil Pollution Act (OPA) litigation, similar state law actions, nuisance and property damage litigation, natural resource damages litigation and many other matters relating to contamination and impaired real property. Our representations include matters in state and federal courts, before state and federal regulatory agencies, as well as in various alternative dispute resolution forums.
Our practice and educational backgrounds in government, earth sciences, economics, ecology and social sciences allow our attorneys to work at a high level of cooperation with environmental, technical and economic expert witnesses. Our attorneys’ knowledge and understanding of the scientific issues frequently presented in environmental matters allow us to collaboratively oversee and manage the technical consultants and expert witnesses required for environmental litigation in a well-organized and cost-effective manner.
Superfund Sites and Multiparty Cost Recovery
Kelley Drye’s dedicated environmental practitioners have unparalleled experience in federal and state Superfund, natural resource damages, environmental remediation and property damage matters. Clients include site owners, operators, arrangers, and transporters at multiple Superfund and Brownfields sites. We consistently and comprehensively manage the investigation of contamination, the identification of responsible parties, the allocation of liability, the coordination of remedial investigations and cleanups with regulators and other parties, and our clients’ participation in complex mediations and settlement structures, as well as cost recovery and contribution litigation. Our attorneys regularly negotiate consent decrees and administrative orders, and possess significant experience dealing with innocent landowner issues, de minimis and de micromis settlements, natural resource damages and environmental justice issues.
Private Property Contamination Litigation
We have defended a number of major industrial companies in claims alleging that contaminants from manufacturing or bulk storage facilities caused property damage or personal injuries to neighboring properties. In successfully handling cases through trial, we have developed expertise in the sub-surface and airborne migration of petroleum and chemical products. In addition, private landowners turn to us as counsel in environmental litigation and related matters across the country. Private property contamination takes many forms, including soil, groundwater, surface water and air issues. Often, the landowner is unaware of historical contamination of the property, or of contamination that has migrated from adjacent or nearby properties. Our attorneys are able to obtain substantial recoveries for clients that partially or completely offset environmental remediation costs associated with these sites.
Cost Recovery Litigation
Clients often are involved in situations where they are alleged to be responsible for environmental damage caused by other parties. Such liability may arise due to joint and several liability imposed by either state or federal environmental statutes. We have extensive experience defending clients accused of contributing to contaminated sites as a result of historical manufacturing or storage facilities. In other situations, potential liability is alleged merely because the client is the landowner of property contaminated by others, such as historical tenants. Our attorneys develop strategies to either defend clients from claims brought by government entities or private parties or to successfully obtain substantial recoveries for clients that partially or completely offset environmental remediation costs associated with these sites. Often, the contamination is not identified until decades after the contaminating activity has ceased. Identification of responsible parties can be difficult and may require extensive tracing of corporate history and liability to the responsible party through a web of historical land ownership, corporate succession, divestments, mergers and assignments in order to identify the proper liable entities. Likewise, our attorneys work seamlessly with our Insurance Recovery practice to assist in the identification and collection of other sources of contribution, such as historical insurance policies and indemnification agreements.