Environmental Litigation

Environmental Litigation

Overview

Although we have been extremely successful in representing clients in negotiating with agencies and parties to resolve disputes prior to litigation, Cox, Castle & Nicholson's environmental attorneys have represented clients in a variety of environmental litigation matters.

Governmental And Private Cost Recovery Litigation 

We routinely represent landowners and companies that may be potentially responsible for remediating environmental contamination under CERCLA, RCRA, and other federal and state laws. We have defended owners and operators, developers, waste generators, transporters, and lenders in state and federal proceedings, cost recovery actions, and environmental cleanups involving contamination from manufacturing facilities, hazardous waste storage and disposal facilities, shopping centers, and other commercial properties. We also routinely represent parties seeking to recover cleanup costs, interest, and attorney’s fees from responsible parties and insurance companies. We litigate in state and federal court at both the trial and appellate level and have extensive experience in mediation, arbitration, and other forms of alternative dispute resolution.

Proposition 65 And Other "Right-To-Know" Laws 

We advise clients on numerous compliance issues and enforcement matters involving California's Proposition 65. We have significant experience defending clients in Proposition 65 litigation, including claims arising from secondhand smoke exposure, automobile emissions in parking garages, and the presence of lead in various consumer products. We also counsel clients on requirements under the  Emergency Planning and Community Right To Know Act (EPCRA), the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), and other federal and state laws concerning the disclosure or warnings required in the use or presence of hazardous materials.

Insurance Coverage Advice And Litigation 

We provide insurance coverage advice and participate in insurance litigation in connection with remediation and toxic tort matters. Our attorneys have aggressively pursued and obtained insurance coverage for defense costs, remedial expenses, and other damages incurred by our clients in environmental matters. We are well-versed in all of the principal coverage issues that arise under Comprehensive General Liability (CGL) primary and excess policies and environmental insurance policies.

Toxic Mold Litigation

We have defended clients in litigation arising from the presence of allegedly toxic molds. To minimize the risk of such claims, we have counseled clients on mold screening procedures that can be incorporated into the due diligence process. We have also addressed the treatment of mold-related claims under various insurance products.

Representative
Matters

Environmental counsel for plaintiff in 3000 E. Imperial, LLC v. Robertshaw Controls Co., CERCLA cost recovery litigation resulting in the first case upholding the bona fide prospective purchaser defense to CERCLA liability (asserted by 3000 E. Imperial, LLC due to successful pre-acquisition environmental due diligence performed by Cox, Castle & Nicholson).

Lead counsel for the successful appellees in City of Emeryville v. Robinson, 621 F. 3d 1251 (9th Cir. 2010), a seminal case clarifying the interplay of the federal Superfund statute and California's good faith settlement mechanism.

Represented a major developer in litigation against municipal and county government entities arising out of environmental contamination and the associated impairment of the economic opportunity at a 3000 unit planned development in Chico, California. Obtained a settlement worth approximately $10 million.

Co-chaired a 4-week jury trial and subsequent appeal in the acquisition, cleanup, and redevelopment of a 15-acre industrial site. Client recovered in excess of $13 million of cleanup costs and related expenses. Key decisions reported as Emeryville v. Elementis Pigments, et al., 101 Cal. App. 4th 1083 (2002) and Emeryville v. Elementis Pigments, 2001 WL 964230 (N.D. Cal.).

Represented a municipal entity plaintiff in $30 million environmental cost recovery action against multiple defendants. Case settled with all but one defendant. After a seven-week bench trial, obtained a favorable judgment against the remaining defendant.

Represented a global REIT in writ litigation against the California Department of Finance over the validity of a $50 million claim secured by a pledge of tax increment revenue. The claim was ultimately acknowledged by the Department of Finance to be a valid obligation and secured by a pledge of tax increment.

Represented a municipal landowner working with a major developer to convert a 40-acre site heavily impacted by historic MGP operations to a mixed-use development. Client obtained commitment for a full cleanup, estimated at $25-$40 million, from a major utility.

Represented a large landowner client in a CERCLA cost recovery action involving a complex multi-year, multi-party mediation where the parties worked collaboratively on the site cleanup while simultaneously negotiating a settlement.

Represented a commercial developer in cost recovery action against former gasoline service station and dry cleaning operators, obtaining recovery ten times higher than the amount of attorney's fees incurred in litigation.

Represented a developer in recovery of $3.5 million dollars in settlement with oil company for damages arising predominantly from the loss of value to a Los Angeles residential project caused by the delay resulting from implementing a slow form of remediation.

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Represented a retail developer in recovery of $1.3 million in settlement with oil company responsible for contamination from a former gasoline service station. The settlement more than sufficiently funded the complete remediation of the subject property.

Represented a clothing manufacturer/property owner in a multi-year, disputed administrative proceeding against three major oil companies and concerning contamination associated with historic bulk termination operations. Client obtained a settlement for full excavation of the residual fuel products and related contamination, which allowed client to close its sale of the site to a major REIT.

Lead litigation and co-lead transactional counsel in municipal owner's cleanup and redevelopment of a bulk terminal/former defense facility. Client obtained over $3 million in proceeds from its own historic liability policies and a favorable development and disposition agreement including forward-looking pollution liability and cleanup cost cap coverage.

Defended and settled a multi-million dollar penalty proceeding arising out of allegedly illegal disposal of hazardous waste by a Fortune 100 company.

Defended a municipality in a Clean Water Act citizen enforcement suit and resolved matter without payment of civil penalties.

Represented a biotech company in cost recovery action that compelled former railroad companies to address extensive environmental contamination through expedited remedial methods.

Assisted an energy company in complex compliance matter related to the handling and disposal of hazardous waste under federal and state law.

Represented a large residential subdivision developer in a lawsuit alleging grading exposed neighbors to naturally occurring asbestos. Obtained very favorable settlement for client.

Represented a large pharmaceutical company client in multi-party Proposition 65 lawsuit. Client successfully defeated the lawsuit on demurrer, which was upheld on appeal.

Defended large commercial building owners and managers in Proposition 65 lawsuit.

Represented dozens of different retailers, distributors, and manufacturers to obtain favorable settlements of Proposition 65 lawsuits, and to avoid liability under Proposition 65 in the first instance.

Defended a major concert venue owner and retailer in Proposition 65 lawsuit.

Represented major commercial developers in defending numerous suits for mold-related claims, including cases with alleged damages exceeding $10 million.

Defended a large manufacturer in Proposition 65 lawsuit.

Defended a major residential developer in CERCLA and RCRA litigation.

Defended a plumbing fixture manufacturer sued under RCRA and CERCLA for alleged contamination arising out of a post-World War II ship scrapping operation located on San Francisco Bay and obtained settlements in excess of $10 million from the United States and various industrial entities.

Represented a commercial landlord plaintiff suing a neighboring property owner and operator under RCRA for contamination arising out of lumber treatment processes.

Defended a developer sued under CERCLA and RCRA by a homeowners association for placement of materials beneath a roadway (under DTSC supervision).

Represented the lender and developer plaintiffs in RTC v. Rossmoor, 34 Cal. App. 4th 771 (1995), one of the few environmental cost recovery actions tried to a jury.

Represented a landowner whose property was contaminated by activity on a neighboring property, where the principal claim was stigma damages. Bixby Ranch Co. v. Spectrol Electronics, the seminal California case involving stigma damages.

Represented a public utility before the State Water Resources Control Board regarding appropriate orders issues in connection with groundwater contamination.

Attorneys &
Paralegals

Name Title City Phone  
Brooks, Preston W. Partner Los Angeles 310.284.2223
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Doty, Robert P. Partner San Francisco 415.262.5115
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Gold, Karen I. Associate Los Angeles 310.284.2284
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Hughes, Perry S. Partner Los Angeles 310.284.2276
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Infelise, Robert D. Partner San Francisco 415.262.5125
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Potter, Trevor B. Associate Orange County 949.260.4624
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Sullivan, Mark B. Senior Paralegal Los Angeles 310.284.2296
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Vaz, Alicia N. Partner Los Angeles 310.284.2273
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Waite, David P. Partner Los Angeles 310.284.2218
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Walker, Keith B. Partner Los Angeles 310.284.2230
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Zischke, Michael H. Partner San Francisco 415.262.5109
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Spotlight

Cox, Castle & Nicholson LLP Named 2018 National Tier 1 Law Firm of the Year for Land Use and Zoning Law in U.S. News & World Report 2018 “Best Law Firms” Rankings

Cox, Castle & Nicholson LLP, a preeminent full-service law firm specializing in real estate, today announced it was... More»