For 15 years, Keith Walker has practiced environmental law. His main form of expertise is in brownfield redevelopment and complex remediation and human health risk mitigation projects in the context of federal, state and local regulatory compliance in order to obtain the much sought-after “No Further Action” letters. His practice also involves the performance of extensive environmental risk management in the pre-acquisition, financing and development phases. In addition, his work includes cost recovery litigation in both state and federal court.
Keith Walker represents residential, commercial and industrial developers, specializing in complicated sites with long and tricky histories, all while navigating a rapidly-changing regulatory landscape where cleanup and exposure standards are completely in flux. His technical knowledge regarding the science behind the decisions of the regulatory agencies enables him to problem-solve and help clients through to achieve written regulatory closure in the perspective of purchasing, redeveloping, leasing and/or divesting properties and real estate portfolios, often taking the same client through each of these processes.
Brownfield Redevelopment/Regulatory Compliance Advisor
Guiding clients through the regulatory closure process, Keith has extensive experience coordinating the investigation and remediation necessary for obtaining No Further Action status so that former commercial and industrial properties can be redeveloped for a wide variety of Property. In addition, Keith counsels property owners, developers, borrowers and lenders on the most effective ways of addressing human health risks in order to avoid the risk of future toxic tort liability. He has substantial experience advising clients on most effective methods for managing environmental risk, for example through negotiation of effective indemnities and the purchase of environmental insurance policies.
Environmental Litigation Counsel
Keith has successfully litigated landmark federal cost recovery suits, including the first case to uphold a plaintiff’s ability to assert the bona fide prospective purchaser defense to counterclaims asserted under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (3000 E. Imperial, LLC v. Robertshaw Controls Co.). He also has valuable experience using pretrial litigation to compel otherwise recalcitrant responsible parties to provide reimbursement for environmental assessment and remediation costs.
Pre-Acquisition Environmental Risk Management for Real Estate Developers
Keith performs complex environmental due diligence for site acquisitions involving single property acquisitions, purchases of numerous contiguous properties as part of a regional development plan, and acquisition of hundreds of properties in numerous states across the country, including industrial and residential portfolios where multiple extensive cleanups may be ongoing for years.
Negotiator of Environmental Insurance Policies
Keith negotiates environmental insurance policies on behalf of owners and developers of individual properties and for larger portfolios. He is also successful at resolving claims for coverage for numerous sites, securing reimbursement for remediation costs amounting to millions of dollars.
Represented an institutional investor in acquisition of 75-property portfolio, including multiple industrial properties at sites across the United States, for a purchase price exceeding $1 billion.
Represented an institutional investor in acquisition of majority stake in LCOR Inc., from Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., including 14 rental-apartment properties with nearly 5,000 apartments for a purchase price exceeding $820 million.
Represented various plaintiffs – including private party developers, municipalities, and redevelopment agencies – in numerous successful federal cost recovery actions asserting causes of action under CERCLA (and its state counterpart, the Hazardous Substances Account Act) and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and tort claims for negligence, nuisance, trespass, and negligent interference with prospective economic advantage, including 3000 E. Imperial, LLC v. Robertshaw Controls Co.
Served as regulatory compliance counsel for commercial landlords with properties across the United States, with an emphasis on obtaining regulatory closure for former and active dry cleaner and gasoline service station sites.
Led a multi-party cleanup of land heavily contaminated by an industrial accident, including negotiation of financial responsibility among responsible parties, engaging environmental consulting firms in an arduous remediation process, and obtaining "No Further Action" determination from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Represented an institutional investor in acquisition of multiple sites in South Gate, California, with site-wide redevelopment and ongoing remediation of extensive petroleum hydrocarbon contamination caused by underground storage tanks.
Represented a commercial lender in environmental due diligence associated with billions of dollars of loans made on hundreds of separate properties across the United States.
Represented commercial landlords with multiple ongoing environmental cleanups at multiple sites, obtaining "No Further Action" status for numerous sites either through completion of environmental remediation or through ongoing management of risks posed by residual contamination.
Represented commercial landlords in obtaining portfolio environmental insurance policy covering hundreds of properties and numerous covered ownership entities.
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.
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).
Represented a lessee of industrial property in CERCLA action against former owners and neighboring property owners to recover clean-up and remediation costs associated with removal of PCE contamination from the properties.
- News, GlobeSt., 10.28.16
- Keith Walker was featured in GlobeSt.comNews, 9.28.16
- Press Release, 1.26.16
- Five Cox, Castle & Nicholson LLP Attorneys From The Los Angeles Office Were Listed As Southern California Rising Stars 2013Press Release, Super Lawyers, 6.13.13
- Press Release, 6.8.12
- Conference, The Westin South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa, CA, 4/26/2017 - 4/28/2017
- OCBA Offices, Newport Beach, CA, 10.19.16
- Webinar, 2.4.16
- The Reserve LA, Los Angeles, CA, 9.30.15
- 29th Annual Environmental Law Super Symposium: From CERCLA To CEQA And All Points In Between - An Environmental Odyssey Toward Understanding And Managing Your Clients' Environmental ProblemsConference, LA Hotel Downtown, Los Angeles, California, 3.27.15
- Conference, The Langham Hotel, Pasadena, California, 12.11.14
- Conference, San Francisco, California, 11.4.14
- Conference, San Gabriel Hilton, San Gabriel, California, 6.26.13
- Seminar, UC Irvine , Irvine, California, 4.9.09
- Client Alert, 8.5.19
- Client Alert, 9.7.18
- Article, GlobeSt.com, 11.2.17
- Article, Builder And Developer, 6.26.15
- Article, Environmental Law News, 5.31.15
- Article, Builder And Developer, 6.23.14
- Article, Bloomberg BNA Chemical Regulation Reporter, 1.28.13
- Client Alert, CCN Client Alert, 2.26.09
- Article, LACBA Real Property Review Newsletter, Spring 2008
- Supreme Court Confirms Right of Potentially Responsible Parties To Recover CleanupCosts Under CERCLAClient Alert, 06.25.07
Awards & Affiliations
Honors & Recognitions
Southern California Super Lawyers Rising Stars, 2012-2014
International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) - Environmental Committee
ICSC - Southern California Government Relations Task Force
Council of Advisors – Western HVAC Performance Alliance
CORENET Southern California – Professional Development Committee
NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Development Association
Bar & Court Admissions
- State Bar of California
J.D., University of California, Los Angeles School of Law, 2004
B.S., California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, 1996, President's Council Scholar