Environmental Civil Litigation

View as PDF
Overview

Our Clients

We represent companies in a wide range of industry sectors, including oil and gas, energy, chemical, refining, manufacturing, construction and transportation, in environmental civil litigation matters in state and federal courts, as well as before environmental and safety regulatory agencies.

Our Services

Our Environmental and Workplace Safety practice understands the challenge that companies face when navigating federal, state and local environmental laws and regulations. We have a proven track record of resolving civil environmental litigation matters under the Clean Water Act (CWA), the Clean Air Act (CAA), the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), Endangered Species Act (ESA), Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and others.

Environmental Litigation

Katten represents clients at administrative hearings and public meetings before the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state, regional and local governmental agencies—including environmental, transportation, and planning agencies and city councils. We also litigate environmental permit appeals before federal and state environmental agencies and courts, and we have a particularly significant depth of experience handling contested permits in the state of Texas. Our team can quickly assess the case, consider alternative resolutions—including the prospects and risks of settlement or mediation—and, where necessary, litigate the matter to conclusion. With streamlined and cost-effective case management, our Environmental Litigation attorneys represent clients through every phase of an administrative or civil proceeding.

Civil Enforcement

Our team has a deep bench of former government environmental lawyers that understand the intricacies of environmental civil enforcement cases. Our experience covers the full spectrum of issues associated with environmental civil enforcement such as investigations and audits (including the risks and benefits of self-disclosure), the development of compliance programs, inspections, cost recovery actions, enforcement proceedings, defense of citizen suits, appellate advocacy, and environmental contract disputes, including environmental contractual indemnification and insurance recovery. Our team combines legal capabilities and technical know-how with practical litigation and trial experience to protect the interests of our clients. Beyond litigation, our team also has helped clients to negotiate reasonable civil settlements.

Superfund

Katten has significant experience working on the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) or "Superfund," and state-equivalent Superfund cases. We assist clients in developing and implementing effective strategies to manage and mitigate potential liabilities associated with contaminated properties. We handle the full range of issues, including site investigation and remediation, Superfund litigation, cost recovery negotiations, and natural resource damages claims. We routinely defend our clients against federal and state claims, and provide counsel on Brownfields cleanups. We have guided clients through the Request For Information (RFI) process, and assisted clients with land use issues, including purchasing or developing a contaminated property where Superfund liability principles may apply. Our clients benefit from our extensive experience with EPA Regions across the United States and multiple state and local agencies, including the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and the Regional Water Quality Control Boards.

Toxic Tort

Our attorneys represent companies and individuals such as corporate executives and other employees in actions triggered by any number of causes, including whistleblowers, citizen complaints, self-audits and disclosures, search warrants, grand jury subpoenas, and the alleged release of contaminants into air, soil and groundwater from the operation of fuel pipelines, landfills, underground storage tank systems, manufacturing processes, vessels, shipping terminals and pesticide application. These matters often involve claims of individuals, companies or neighborhoods seeking cost recovery and/or contribution, property damage, diminution in property value, economic and business losses, stigma, personal injury, wrongful death, fear of cancer, emotional distress, and medical monitoring. Our team quickly assesses the case, considers alternative resolutions and, if necessary, litigates the matter to conclusion. When possible, we seek to narrow the scope of complaints, as well as obtain summary judgment in related cases.

Our team includes attorneys with significant, hands-on experience, scientific and technical knowledge in environmental fields, and familiarity with insurance recovery and health and safety law practices. We have relationships with the preeminent experts in the fields of oncology, epidemiology, toxicology, potable water distribution, contaminant fate and transport, geology, hydrogeology, air dispersion and modeling, industrial practices, real estate valuation, and economics to support our legal strategies for our clients.

Citizen Suits

Katten has significant experience in defending against citizen suits under environmental laws, and when litigation cannot be avoided, we have a proven record in the court room. With governmental budgetary constraints, federal and state regulators frequently support citizen suits to alleviate the government’s enforcement burdens. Katten understands how to carefully navigate the procedural and strategic challenges inherent in citizen suits from more stringent notice requirements to fee provisions and costs incurred as well as sought. Our attorneys have effectively argued jurisdictional issues by relying on and differentiating recent EPA actions and court rulings. We also have guided clients in developing proactive procedures and policies to avoid the risks of citizen suits. Our deep understanding of environmental compliance, enforcement and litigation enables our attorneys to handle complex citizen suits.

Experience
Civil Enforcement
  • Representation of a multinational super-major integrated oil and gas company in connection with the issuance and appeal of a BSEE incident of non-compliance regarding a crane issue on an offshore rig. Katten provided legal research and analysis regarding regulatory and civil exposure, retained and interviewed expert witnesses, performed legal and factual analysis for the appeal, negotiated with BSEE and the Solicitor's Office, and advised on the company's legal strategy.
  • Representation of a global leader in specialty chemicals in connection with federal civil and criminal investigations arising out of an alleged failure to operate pollution control equipment at a wastewater treatment facility.
  • Representation of a leading lawn and garden manufacturer in connection with resolution of a nationwide civil FIFRA claim and RCRA claims at a packaging facility.
  • Representation of an oil and gas company under investigation for violations of state and federal statutes related to impacts on migratory birds.
Superfund
  • Representation of potentially responsible party (PRP) in connection with one of the largest Superfund sites since the enactment of CERCLA. Katten represented a waste management company, a target PRP, in negotiations with other PRPs and managed private cost-recovery actions against recalcitrant PRPs which contributed to the subject groundwater contamination.
  • Representation of joint defense group in state Superfund litigation related to cleanup of construction and demolition waste facility in Texas.
  • Defense of California landfill operator against thousands of plaintiffs' tort claims. Appointed liaison counsel by the 55 defendant chemical manufacturers, waste management companies and water purveyors on issues concerning pre-trial and trial proceedings. The majority of plaintiffs' causes of action were dismissed on early motion practice.
  • Representation of client in contribution action in federal court alleging "arranger" liability under federal and state Superfund statutes involving a former barge-cleaning facility in Freeport, Texas.
Toxic Tort
  • Defense of a California waste management company in a highly publicized neighborhood toxic tort action alleging personal injuries, including cancer, emotional distress, property damage (specifically "stigma," "advertising injury" and loss of use) and fear of cancer resulting from the operation of the Sunshine Canyon Landfill in Sylmar, California. Through the combination of a court-issued case management order, depositions, a successful motion for summary adjudication, plaintiff relinquishment of rights to make certain claims, and a hearing on general and specific causation pursuant to Cottle v. Superior Court, Katten obtained dismissal of all claims.
  • Successful defense of one of the world's largest suppliers of fresh and prepared produce against allegations by more than 6,000 plaintiffs—former agricultural workers resident in Honduras, Panama, Nicaragua and Guatemala—that the use of nematode pesticides in foreign jurisdictions caused sterility and birth defects. The numerous claims were consolidated into four cases filed in California Superior Court and, following significant discovery and motion practice, were dismissed on a variety of procedural and substantive grounds.
  • Defense of a major petroleum exporter and marketer against claims that long-term occupational exposure to benzene and related chemical components of aromatic hydrocarbon and other petroleum distillate products allegedly distributed by our client caused plaintiff to develop acute myelogenous leukemia. Katten mounted an aggressive defense through the discovery phase and obtained an extremely favorable settlement for our client.
  • Defense of an American conglomerate against claims raised by a worker who alleged his kidney failure was a consequence of exposure to solvents and other chemicals during the course of his employment. This matter was resolved by a de minimis settlement.
Citizen Suit Defense
  • Representation of client in federal court case in Fort Smith, Arkansas, against claims of violation of RCRA hazardous waste requirements against an aircraft refurbishing facility resulting in jury verdict dismissing all counts against defendants.
  • Representation of client on multi-state Toxic Substances Control Act enforcement case involving alleged violation of PCB rules and disclosure of violations under the EPA's Audit Policy with no resulting gravity-based penalties.
  • Representation of municipal clients in government and citizen suit enforcement actions under the Clean Water Act relating to public infrastructure upgrades of the wastewater collection systems of the City of Los Angeles, City of Oakland, and City and County of Honolulu.
Firm News
Articles
Advisories
Events
April 24, 2017
Introduction to Environmental Real Estate Transactions
CLE Eligible | Lawline | Webinar | New York, New York
March 30–31, 2017
August 4–5, 2016
July 13, 2016
June 23–24, 2016
June 14, 2016
March 2–4, 2016
October 29–30, 2015
October 23, 2015
August 7, 2015
March 17–19, 2015
January 8, 2015

Recognition

Litigation – Environmental (Washington, DC), 2015–2017
Litigation – Environmental (New York), 2015–2017
Litigation – Environmental (National), 2015–2017
Litigation – Environmental (Austin), 2016
Environmental Law (Washington, DC), 2015–2017
Environmental Law (Austin), 2015–2017
Environmental Law (National), 2015–2017
Previous Next

Recognition

Litigation – Environmental (Washington, DC), 2015–2017
Litigation – Environmental (New York), 2015–2017
Litigation – Environmental (National), 2015–2017
Litigation – Environmental (Austin), 2016
Environmental Law (Washington, DC), 2015–2017
Environmental Law (Austin), 2015–2017
Environmental Law (National), 2015–2017

OUR CLIENTS SAY...

"Very helpful in finding the legal context around environmental issues."

Chambers USA 2016
(Environment: Litigation)

Katten Websites   Careers  |  Alumni  |  Mobile Site
Contact Us   Offices  |  Media Center  |  People  |  Email
Legal Notices   Disclaimer  |  Privacy Policy  |  Attorney Advertising
Contact Us