Overview

Chair of the firm's Environmental Team, Preston assists property owners, developers, pension funds, lenders, and municipalities to craft environmental risk management strategies in the context of real estate acquisition, financing, and development. He focuses on identifying legal risk associated with contaminated properties, and in finding solutions to address those risks.

Brownfields Redevelopment

Preston also represents purchasers of contaminated properties, known as brownfields, negotiating with government agencies to help minimize his clients' environmental liabilities using tools such as the California Land Reuse and Revitalization Act, the Polanco Act, and the Brownfields Revitalization and Environmental Restoration Act. One of Preston's foremost areas of expertise is in assisting clients to obtain and tailor environmental insurance policies to address environmental issues associated with real property. In that capacity, he has helped clients procure over 500 environmental insurance policies for brownfields sites. 

Environmental Litigator

In addition, Preston has litigated a variety of environmental matters including lawsuits brought to recover cost of environmental cleanups, mold exposure claims, Proposition 65 actions, and insurance recovery actions. Preston was co-lead counsel in the seminal 3000 E. Imperial, LLC v. Robertshaw Controls Company, et al., which established for the first time that a property owner could acquire contaminated property, even with knowledge and at a discount, and recover 100% of the cost of remediation from responsible parties.

Associations

Preston is a member of the National Brownfields Association, the California Solar Energy Industries Association, and the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties and has written numerous articles on environmental issues. His published articles have dealt with brownfields redevelopment, environmental insurance, green building, mold, electromagnetic fields, OSHA asbestos standards, Proposition 65, and the federal Clean Air Act's transportation control measures.

Experience

  • Represented a large municipality in cleanup and development strategies for infamous Whittaker-Bermite site, which had resulted in the closure of drinking water supply wells and necessitated a cleanup in excess of $250 million.

  • Negotiated on behalf of the owners of a large shopping center in Lynwood the requirements for obtaining regulatory closure and compelled prior industrial manufacturers to undertake the required cleanup of extensive soil and groundwater contamination at a cost exceeding $12 million.

  • Obtained multi-million dollar jury verdict for a New York based developer with plans to build a hotel in Laguna Niguel in an action against oil companies and adjacent landowners arising out of the discovery that the land on which the hotel was to be built was contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons.

  • Represented a developer of residential project in claim against seller of property for breach of purchase and sale agreement for failing to properly remediate the property as required by the agreement.

  • Represented a landowner in its suit against tenants who caused contamination of soil and groundwater, alleging causes of action under CERCLA and common law.

  • 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).

Insights

News

Speaking Engagements

Publications

Awards & Affiliations

Honors & Recognitions

Best Lawyers, Environmental Law, 2016-2021

Southern California Super Lawyers, 2004-2006; 2008-2021

Professional Affiliations

California Department of Toxic Substances Control, Land Revitalization and Redevelopment Collaborative, Member

United Friends of the Children, Board of Directors

California League of Conservation Voters, Green Advisory Council

GreenWish, Board of Directors

National Association of Industrial and Office Properties (NAIOP)

Judicial Law Clerk to the Honorable Alicemarie H. Stotler of the United States District Court, Central District of California

Bar & Court Admissions

  • State Bar of California

Education

J.D., Yale Law School, 1989

B.A., Harvard College, 1986

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