For More Information
Clients on either side of threatened or actual litigation implicating environmental laws and regulations are served by Morgan Lewis lawyers who have tried to verdict or favorably resolved such cases at every level. We regularly represent companies across the country in complex matters under both federal and state law, often in cases involving multiple parties with competing interests.
We have developed successful strategies for handling high-stakes Superfund cost-recovery matters; mass toxic torts; defense against citizen suits; defense against government enforcement actions; appeals; and insurance recovery disputes. Our Environmental Litigation team includes former high-ranking federal and state government lawyers, including the U.S. Department of Justice’s former Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division, several former U.S. Attorneys, and the former chair of the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board.
Cost Recovery Under Federal and State Superfund Statutes
Clients ranging from real estate owners to chemical manufacturers and agricultural concerns have turned to Morgan Lewis for assistance in cost recovery actions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), the “Superfund law”, and its state counterparts. Our attorneys seek to promote efficiency and to minimize financial obligations for cleanups. We work to ensure that costs are shared by other potentially responsible parties, including government agencies and departments, winning settlements that have resulted in substantial reductions in our clients’ contributions.
Our lawyers represent companies in major regional groundwater contamination cases, and they help to coordinate client efforts in designing and implementing cleanup strategies. We have won changes in proposed remedies that have significantly lessened our clients’ costs, and have assisted clients in challenging certain aspects of the Superfund statute and its scope.
Toxic Torts and Class Actions
Morgan Lewis’s extensive interdisciplinary resources serve clients involved in large class actions raising toxic tort claims. Our representations have included matters involving thousands of plaintiffs who claimed personal injury and property damages allegedly suffered as a result of contamination of the air, soil, or groundwater. As just one example, we have defended clients in class actions and mass lawsuits for property damage and medical monitoring associated with alleged contamination of underground water supplies.
Morgan Lewis attorneys have assisted clients in reducing or eliminating potential damages by winning dismissals of claims before they went to trial. When cases have proceeded to trial, the firm often has prevailed after presenting the defense, whether through a judge’s ruling or with jury verdicts resulting in complete defense victories.
Defense Against Citizen Suits
Morgan Lewis has represented clients in numerous citizen suits brought under RCRA, CWA, CAA, and state laws. Recognizing the potential for exposure created by such actions, we craft a specialized response that fully considers the relevant legal, scientific and regulatory issues, often across several disciplines.
We have defended major national companies in actions under California Proposition 65, a unique right-to-know law that is enforced solely through civil litigation. Our clients have included defendants in cases brought by both public prosecutors and the numerous “private attorneys general” that have been spawned by the measure’s “bounty hunter” provisions.
Defense Against Government Enforcement Actions
Our team of attorneys includes numerous former high-ranking government alumni—including the former Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Environmental and Natural Resources Division—who can provide insightful and effective representation in any agency action. Taking an interdisciplinary approach that recognizes the special complexities of government led litigation, such as collateral consequences in shareholder suits, spin-off third-party tort liability, or potential government contract debarment, we work to assist clients to avoid unfavorable or adversarial decisions by government agencies, or to advantageously resolve enforcement proceedings once they have begun.
We work with clients to prevent and detect potential violations. We audit companies' recordkeeping and reporting practices—a common source of problems—and develop training for staff and executives. Our attorneys also advocate on behalf of businesses and industries before government bodies, challenge rule-makings and take other steps to head off problems before they occur.
Appeals of Administrative and Court Decisions
Should an appeal be necessary, our environmental lawyers work closely with our seasoned appellate attorneys to guide our clients through the process. We have argued in state and federal appellate courts throughout the country, and before the U.S. Supreme Court. In addition, our attorneys have filed numerous challenges to EPA rules and decisions in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. As just two examples, Morgan Lewis lawyers represented several major oil companies in a successful federal appellate court challenge to the EPA’s interpretation of a New Source Performance Standard and also persuaded the D.C. Circuit to overturn EPA’s 1980 “mixture rule.”
Our attorneys have also filed amicus briefs on behalf of our clients for matters pending in the Supreme Court and other appellate courts throughout the country, including for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the American Chemistry Council.
Morgan Lewis's Insurance Recovery lawyers help clients manage their environmental liability by maximizing and preserving the value of their insurance assets. Often working in tandem with our colleagues in other practices, we assist companies at every critical step, from advising them on the procurement of environmental insurance through to securing and protecting maximum recoveries when claims are filed.
We prosecute, negotiate, and bring to trial major environmental insurance claims for many of the nation's most prominent companies, often employing innovative fee arrangements to share the risk. Our attorneys are admitted to practice in a dozen key jurisdictions and have handled claims or adjudications in all 50 states and across the world. Such broad geographic reach enables us to pursue actions in the jurisdiction most favorable to our clients, without undue delay.
After facilities have been bought or sold or equipment has been purchased, commercial disputes implicating environmental concerns can later arise under indemnity, warranty or other commercial provisions. The impetus may be an environmental disaster stemming from failed equipment or a previously hidden condition, a government investigation about prior conduct, a whistleblower allegation a citizen suit, or a post-closing audit. When such disputes arise after the deal has closed, we litigate such matters, bringing together the necessary combination of commercial litigation, government enforcement, environmental regulatory, and insurance expertise, insuring a skilled and comprehensive approach.