Environmental and Workplace Safety

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Overview

Our Clients
Katten's nationally recognized Environmental and Workplace Safety team represents major companies in a wide range of industry sectors, including oil and gas, energy (onshore and offshore), chemical, biofuels, maritime and others on environmental incidents and health and safety matters. We also represent companies and individuals when they face civil enforcement actions and criminal investigations for environmental, health, or safety issues. For some of our clients our engagement begins with compliance counseling and other proactive risk management activities, and for others we are the first call when an incident occurs or a subpoena is received.

Our Services
Our practice combines the full spectrum of capabilities relevant to environmental and workplace safety incidents:

  • sophisticated on-the-ground incident response, and strategic advice for company executives and attorneys,
  • deep knowledge of federal, state and local enforcement agencies,
  • the investigatory and enforcement experience of former federal environmental prosecutors on both civil enforcement matters and environmental crimes, and
  • frequent counseling on workplace safety issues arising from incidents or inspections.

We provide value for our clients by bringing together practitioners whose strengths complement each other.

The foundation of our services is our understanding of the complex regulatory and technical issues that arise in various industry sectors. We apply our deep experience in:

  • crisis management,
  • internal investigations,
  • administrative proceedings,
  • enforcement actions and other government inquiries, and
  • civil and criminal litigation.

Our attorneys represent clients in matters involving federal government agencies such as the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the US Chemical Safety Board (CSB), the US Department of Justice (DOJ), the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), the Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), the United States Coast Guard (USCG), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other federal and state agencies.

Our team prides itself on helping companies creatively manage complex issues involving multiple stakeholders. In the event of an environmental or workplace safety incident, our team is among the first on the ground and coordinates responses of employees, in-house counsel, facility engineers and operators. We direct internal investigations and evidence preservation initiatives under the Clean Water Act (CWA), Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Clean Air Act (CAA) and Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), among other worker safety and environmental regimes.

Katten lawyers are at the forefront of emerging process safety issues and our team provides ongoing counsel to clients on process safety and other occupational health and safety matters. We represent clients in OSHA, EPA and BSEE investigations into workplace fatalities, accidents and other safety incidents.

Led by a former head of the Department of Justice's Environmental Crimes section, our Environmental and Workplace Safety litigators focus exclusively on environmental cases and spend much of their time on criminal matters. Further supported by a deep bench of former Assistant US Attorneys, our team is well situated to conduct internal investigations and respond to criminal charges by the government on environmental and safety issues.

Additionally, our team relies upon our regulatory and transactional capabilities to support other client needs, such as discrete regulatory projects—identifying and addressing the range of environmental issues, potential liabilities and operational constraints in transactions, and advising commercial developers, builders, owners and development lenders in connection with environmentally challenged properties.

More than just lawyers, we view ourselves as strategic partners to our clients, thinking about their business holistically and protecting their interests accordingly. We understand that the experience our clients have working with us is of the utmost importance. How we deliver our service is as essential as the service itself and we take a collaborative approach with our clients to be responsive to the needs of each situation.

Experience
Major Accident and Incident Response
  • Representation of supermajor in multi-agency investigation following refinery fire, including the CSB, EPA, OSHA, and state and local agencies.
  • Representation of a Fortune 50 chemical manufacturer in connection with investigations by the CSB, OSHA, the EPA and other agencies into a four-fatality accident resulting from the release of toxic chemicals, including subsequent enforcement.
  • Representation of multiple facilities after a major accident and fatality, including response to OSHA inspection, assistance in simultaneous response to CSB and EPA inspections, and assistance in defense of personal injury and property damage lawsuits.
  • Representation of an offshore production company after a rig explosion and fire in response to BSEE civil and criminal investigation, and assistance with defense of related civil litigation.
Workplace Safety
  • Provision of advice to a major electric utility in connection with the development and implementation of process safety management systems related to a multibillion-dollar capital project.
  • Representation of a vehicle manufacturer in connection with an OSHA inspection into machine guarding and other workplace safety standards, including subsequent enforcement.
  • Representation of a Fortune 50 integrated energy company with respect to a loss of well control resulting in a contractor fatality and investigations by OSHA and other enforcement agencies.
  • Representation of a chemical manufacturer into a fire that seriously injured two employees and resulted in investigations by OSHA and the EPA.
Environmental Civil and Criminal Enforcement
  • Representation of a Fortune 50 energy company in connection with a federal criminal Clean Air Act/Risk Management Plan investigation focused on whether American Petroleum Institute (API) Standards and Recommended Practices can be the basis for a criminal prosecution.
  • Representation of an offshore labor services company in connection with the Black Elk case, a federal criminal investigation of a multi-fatality explosion in the Gulf of Mexico that followed Deepwater Horizon. Successfully obtained dismissal of all felony counts in the indictment on a motion to dismiss.
  • Representation of a leading lawn and garden manufacturer in connection with the largest federal criminal investigation in the history of the FIFRA program.
  • Representation at trial of one of the world's largest providers of wastewater management solutions in connection with a federal criminal prosecution. Secured an acquittal of a 26-count criminal indictment.
Firm News
Articles
Advisories
Events
November 3, 2016
15th Annual Energy Litigation Conference
CLE Eligible | Houston, Texas
October 16–18, 2016
2016 Environmental Conference | New Orleans, Louisiana
October 15, 2016
September 21–23, 2016
August 4–5, 2016
July 13, 2016
June 23–24, 2016
June 14, 2016
June 6–9, 2016
April 26, 2016
March 31, 2016
March 15–17, 2016
March 2–4, 2016
February 3–5, 2016
November 9–11, 2015
October 29–30, 2015
October 1, 2015
September 30, 2015
September 2, 2015
August 7, 2015
July 22, 2015
Annual Convention | Los Angeles, California
March 17–19, 2015
January 8, 2015
November 10–12, 2014
September 24, 2014
Working With Technical Consultants | Environmental Law Institute | Washington, DC
August 7–8, 2014
May 1–2, 2014
Spring CLE Symposia | Chicago, Illinois
March 5–7, 2014
February 19–20, 2014
November 14–16, 2012
November 6–8, 2012
June 19, 2012
FuturePorts 2012 Conference | San Pedro, California
November 9–11, 2011
April 26–27, 2010
December 2–4, 2008
Good and Green | Chicago, Illinois

Recognition

Litigation – Environmental (New York), 2013–2017
Environment (District of Columbia), 2012–2016
Industry Focus – Environment: Litigation, 2015–2016
Litigation – Environmental (National), 2012–2017
Litigation – Environmental (Austin), 2014–2016
Environmental Law (National), 2013–2017
Environment: Regulatory, 2016
Environment (Texas), 2014–2016
Environmental Law (Washington, DC), 2011, 2013–2017
Environmental Law (Austin), 2014–2017
Environmental Group Of The Year, 2014
Litigation – Environmental Washington, DC), 2012–2017
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Recognition

Litigation – Environmental (New York), 2013–2017
Environment (District of Columbia), 2012–2016
Industry Focus – Environment: Litigation, 2015–2016
Litigation – Environmental (National), 2012–2017
Litigation – Environmental (Austin), 2014–2016
Environmental Law (National), 2013–2017
Environment: Regulatory, 2016
Environment (Texas), 2014–2016
Environmental Law (Washington, DC), 2011, 2013–2017
Environmental Law (Austin), 2014–2017
Environmental Group Of The Year, 2014
Litigation – Environmental Washington, DC), 2012–2017

OUR CLIENTS SAY...

"Extremely well versed in the law, and extremely responsive and practical."

Chambers USA 2016
(Environment)

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