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Environmental and Toxic Tort Litigation
The Environmental Strategy team helps position clients to avoid or leverage litigation arising from environmental issues. We provide cogent advice in response to enforcement actions, information requests and other preludes to litigation and we bring an experienced hand to high-priority appellate advocacy.
Bracewell provides comprehensive and aggressive defense in statutory claims arising in Superfund liability and hazardous waste disposal issues under federal CERCLA laws. We have substantial experience handling cases brought by the EPA and by private parties. Frequently, we secure reductions in cleanup costs and, in some cases, help clients obtain release from designations as primary responsible parties (PRPs).
We defend executives and companies against criminal allegations involving issues such as hazardous materials spills and exposures, and violations of the Clean Air and Water Acts. We also defend toxic torts and mass torts alleging injury from exposure to asbestos, hazardous chemicals, toxic mold and other contaminants.
Our environmental litigation work includes insurance coverage disputes and defense of citizen suits under the Clean Water Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and other statutes. Our approach combines trial lawyer advocacy with detailed regulatory knowledge. Our lawyers handle both straightforward and complex cases, including defense of claims over releases of or exposure to MTBE, asbestos, lead-based paints, benzene and dioxin.
As lead defense counsel for a developer in a federal court action involving NEPA litigation, successfully defended key permits necessary for the urban renewal of a southwestern Michigan town through the development of a championship golf course, marina, housing, and associated parkland.
Handled successful litigation for permit issues in D.C. Federal District Court on behalf of a power producer. This was the first-of-its-kind "deadline suit" litigation against the EPA, alleging EPA's failure to issue a permit by the statutory deadline for a natural gas power plant designed to serve electricity demand in California.
Advised an independent petroleum and natural gas exploration and production company on litigation defense related to state-level enforcement of environmental and oil and gas drilling requirements.
Serve as counsel to a natural gas exploration and development company in a challenge to a unilateral enforcement order targeting the client’s hydraulic fracturing activities and alleging the contamination of drinking water wells. Handled briefing and oral argument in the U.S. Court of Appeals, seeking judicial review of the federal order.
Represented the plant manager and the individuals responsible for EHS compliance at the facility of a major chemical company in an EPA and DOJ criminal investigation into alleged Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Clean Air Act violations.
Represented Chesapeake Energy in an air permitting matter before the West Virginia Air Quality Board, which granted a directed verdict to Appalachia Midstream Services, LLC, a subsidiary of Chesapeake Energy, dismissing an appeal challenging its Clean Air Act permits for its development in northern West Virginia.
Represented a large operator and a major oilfield service company, in response to hydraulic fracturing-related subpoenas issued by the New York Attorney General under the Martin Act, a New York state criminal law related to investor communications on unconventional onshore oil and natural gas development issues.
First-chaired a multi-million dollar Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) enforcement action. The opinion, which EPA appealed, was affirmed by the EPA Environmental Appeals Board.
Investigated the allegations regarding, and assisted in the settlement of what was, at the time, the largest Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Justice and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers enforcement action in the wetland context.
Represent Valero Energy Corporation and Total Petrochemicals USA, Inc. in more than 80 MTBE contamination and product defect cases. Act as national counsel for this litigation currently consolidated in MDL 1358 in the United States District Court, Southern District of New York.
In an insurance coverage lawsuit regarding environmental contamination from landfill sites, represented Zurich American Insurance Company in Browning-Ferris Industries, Inc., et al. vs. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's London, et al. in the 80th Judicial District Court of Harris County, Texas.
Represented the GNI Group, Inc. in a trespass and nuisance lawsuit related to the disposal of hazardous waste through deep well injection. Odilia Benavidez, et al. vs. Chemical Waste Management, Inc., et al. in the 94th Judicial District Court of Nueces County, Texas.
In litigation concerning nickel and chromium exposure allegedly related to two worker deaths, represented Rockwell International Corporation & Nordstrom Valves, Inc. (an Invensys subsidiary). LaDonna Brandenburgh, et al. vs. Nordstrom Valves, Inc., et al. in the 62nd Judicial District Court of Hopkins County, Texas.