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  1. Environment: litigation
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Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP’s Washington DC-based team has strong expertise in handling complex, high-stakes environmental litigation, and continues to handle a broad range of matters including federal and state enforcement actions, contaminated site matters, toxic torts, and air, water, wetlands and permitting litigation. Thomas Milch and department head Brian Israel continue to represent BP in numerous disputes, most notably in the $20bn case regarding the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a matter involving Clean Water Act (CWA) enforcement actions and Natural Resource Damages claims. In another highlight, co-managing partner Michael Daneker defended Honeywell in four class action toxic tort suits regarding the presence of Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in the municipal water supply of Hoosick Falls. Joel Gross handles civil and criminal enforcement actions under the Clean Air Act (CAA), Clean Water Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act; Lester Sotsky is lead counsel in several toxic tort cases; and San Francisco-based Trent Norris handles technical disputes involving consumer protection. Also in San Francisco, counsel Sarah Esmaili continues to build her profile. The Mosaic Company, Dow Chemical and Walt Disney are also key clients.

Kirkland & Ellis LLP provides ‘an exceptional service’, and the ‘well-staffed teams make you feel like you are their first and only client’. The firm has successfully represented entities in a broad range of civil, criminal and administrative proceedings including mass torts and class actions, white-collar criminal disputes, partially responsible party (PRP) litigation and appellate matters. Kevin Van Wart and Bradley Weidenhammer are acting as lead counsel for Boeing in a case brought by 200 property owners, defending the client against medical monitoring and property damage claims concerning groundwater contamination linked to a release of vinyl chloride. Washington DC-based Mike Brock continues to represent BP entities in various matters arising out of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and Richard Godfrey, Andrew Langan and Andrew Running represent the City of Chicago against three plaintiffs in a putative class action regarding dangerous levels of lead exposure as a result of sewer line replacement and water meter installation. All named individuals are based in Chicago, except where otherwise stated.

Los Angeles-based Michael Romey heads the department at Latham & Watkins LLP. The firm has been representing Florida Department of Environmental Protection before the US Supreme Court in Florida v Georgia, an action filed by the State of Florida seeking remedy for the ecological, environmental and economic harm cause by Georgia’s overconsumption of water in the Chattahoochee and Flint River basins; a high-profile series of cases collectively known as the Tri-State Water Wars. The group also has strong class action expertise; Thomas Heiden and Mary Rose Alexander represent Chevron in a series of multi-district class actions regarding alleged breach of contract, breach of warranty and fraud. Other key practitioners include Robert Wyman, who has been representing SoCalGas in a case concerning a natural gas leak in the Aliso Canyon; Julia Hatcher and Christine Rolph, who are acting for The Advertiser Company in a major Superfund matter involving chlorinated solvent contamination; and newly promoted partner Kegan Brown, who is recommended for complex product liability and toxic tort litigation. Other key clients include Nalco Company, Navistar and City of San Diego.

The ‘outstandingSidley Austin LLP has ‘possibly the best environmental law practice in the country’. David Buente heads the department from Washington DC and has strong expertise handling litigation and rulemaking matters, most notably those involving the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, along with Superfund, criminal and toxic tort issues. Other recommended individuals include Byron Taylor and Judith Praitis, located in Chicago and Los Angeles respectively, and Washington DC-based Roger Martella, who recently represented the National Association of Manufacturers in a precedent-setting climate change case regarding GHG emissions. Robert Olian and Samuel Gutter are also extremely well revered, and counsel Jim Wedeking is an up-and-coming lawyer. Other work highlights included acting for General Electric in various contentious matters involving the clean-up and redevelopment of former plant sites, and representing AES Puerto Rico in a $100m action challenging two municipal ordinances that ban the disposal of coal combustion residuals (CCRs) in landfill sites. Recent client wins include Chesapeake Energy, Danaher and Westlands Water District.

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Beveridge & Diamond, P.C.’s ‘excellent’ practice is jointly led by James Slaughter in Washington DC and Megan Brillault in New York. Other key individuals include Benjamin Wilson, who acts for major retailers, oil and gas companies and municipalities; Robert Brager, who focuses on product liability litigation and toxic torts; and ‘criminal law expert’ Evynn Overton, who ‘provides outstanding strategic advice’ and has ‘significant prosecutorial experience’. Highlights included successfully defending Siemens in a £12.6m federal jury trial concerning the contamination of the Mother Brook in Boston, securing a finding of no liability. The group also obtained a unanimous dismissal from the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in Gilbert v Synagro, a mass tort involving nuisance, negligence and trespassing claims brought against energy technology company Synagro.

Bracewell LLP’s ‘strong litigation team’ has ‘a very practical bent’. Head of the environmental strategies practice Jeffrey Holmstead recently acted for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) in its challenge to the Clean Power Plan (CPP), successfully obtaining a Supreme Court stay of the federal regulation. In other recent work, the ‘outstandingKevin Ewing represented various offshore service sector companies in enforcement matters before the Interior Board of Land Appeals, and Houston-based Christopher Dodson acted for landfill developer Post Oak Clean Green in an appeal against challenges to the siting of potential landfill, a suit brought by the Guadalupe County Groundwater District. Head of the environment and natural resources department Jason Hutt has ‘a very strong knowledge of the law’ and is ‘excellent at evaluating facts and developing efficient strategies to obtain an optimal outcome’. Named individuals are based in Washington DC, unless otherwise stated. The firm has significantly expanded its Austin presence with the addition of several partners from Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP.

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP’s litigation and mass tort group has significant experience in high-stakes environmental matters, and is particularly noted for its expertise in multi-plaintiff toxic tort matters, Superfund and cost recovery issues, industrial accidents and government enforcement actions. New York-based Andrea Neuman successfully represented Chevron in an appellate case before the Second Circuit, which upheld a federal district court decision granting Chevron relief from a fraudulently procured $9.5bn Ecuadorian judgment. In another highlight, Jeffrey Dintzer acted on behalf of several energy companies, including Chevron, Area Energy and Freeport McMoRan Oil & Gas, successfully securing the denial of a preliminary injunction seeking to rescind thousands of underground injection well permits. The group is jointly led by Daniel Nelson and Peter Seley from Washington DC. Patrick Dennis is the key figure in Los Angeles and Stacie Fletcher is an up-and-coming partner in Washington DC.

Hogan Lovells US LLP’s ‘outstanding’ team is ‘full of true experts, who are practical, insightful and always ready to help’. For example, Adam Kushner, who leads the department from Washington DC, is ‘exactly what you need in an outside counsel’ and is ‘able to utilize past US EPA experience when handling current issues’. Other notable practitioners include Scott Reisch, who focuses on federal and state cleanup matters; James Banks, who represented the Permian Basin Petroleum Association (PBPA) in a suit challenging the listing of the Lesser Prairie Chicken as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA); and Dan Dunn, who handles litigation in the natural resources, energy, aerospace and engineering sectors. Other recent work includes Justin Savage representing American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) in litigation against Union Pacific Railroad over its ‘empty charge’ tariff, which imposes fees on shippers sending empty crude oil tank cars to repair facilities.

Hunton & Williams LLP acts for clients in the full spectrum of contentious environmental issues, and has notable experience in the manufacturing, natural resources, real estate and waste disposal sectors. William Wehrum heads the practice from Washington DC, where he focuses on litigious and regulatory air quality issues, compliance counseling and enforcement defense. Other key figures include Deidre Duncan, who represents clients in matters involving various environmental statutes; William Brownell, who has significant climate change expertise; and Charles Knauss and Shannon Broome, both of whom joined the firm from Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP in July 2016. The firm has defended numerous companies in suits seeking damages for greenhouse gas emissions, and also serves as lead counsel in major appellate rulemaking cases opposite the EPA.

Mayer Brown’s ‘prompt and knowledgeable’ team provides ‘an outstanding level of service, consistently going above and beyond to provide valuable advice’. In Chicago, the ‘responsive and practicalRichard Bulger jointly leads the practice with Mark Ter Molen, who focuses on product liability, mass tort actions and private party litigation. In a matter led by Timothy Bishop and Michael Kimberly, the Chicago-based team acted for several major industry groups in American Farm Bureau Federation v EPA, an administrative challenge to the legality of the ‘Waters of the United States’ regulation. The firm is also representing Veolia in a suit brought by the Michigan Attorney General concerning the Flint water crisis, involving claims of fraud and professional negligence. ‘Thoughtful and insightful’ counsel Roger Patrick is also a key figure. Other clients include US Sugar, Talos Energy, Foster Poultry Farms and Alexander & Baldwin.

Baker Botts L.L.P. is noted for its expertise in energy-related matters along with environmental and toxic tort litigation, and has recently handled a number of air, water, toxic substances and waste-related issues. Recent work includes acting for BCCA Appeal Group in two separate suits; the first, in response to an EPA action to roll back a longstanding regulatory regime, and the second being a challenge to a City of Houston ordinance expanding the City’s regulatory and enforcement authority. An Austin-based team comprising Derek McDonald, Pamela Giblin and Aileen Hooks also defended Waste Control Specialists (WCS) against attempts by Sierra Club to reverse a TCEQ authorization for the construction and operation of waste disposal facilities. Special counsel Stephen Fitzgerald joined the Dallas office in 2016 and is representing clients in over 150 environmentally impacted site matters across various EPA regions. Since publication, Christopher Carr has joined in San Francisco from Morrison & Foerster LLP.

Key individuals at Covington & Burling LLP include former EPA general counsels Donald Elliott and Gary Guzy, both based in Washington DC, and practice co-chair Lawrence Hobel, who is based in San Francisco. The firm represented Intalco Aluminum in natural resource damages proceedings before the EPA, the US Forest Service and the Washington Department of Ecology; acted for Mueller Industries in a $10m site cleanup-related matter; and represented Aerojet Rocketdyne in relation to its Superfund site in California, a dispute involving water purveyor claims and property owner damage litigation. Senior counsel Robert Matthews, in Washington DC, also handled a multi-district litigation for KBR regarding injury from exposure to emissions from open-air burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan.

At Greenberg Traurig LLP, Washington DC-based David Weinstein represented The Mosaic Company in a $50m suit brought by an independent plaintiff, who alleged harmful exposure to air pollutants from a Mosaic Fertilizer manufacturing facility. In other highlights, David Mandelbaum acted for FMC Corporation in a $1bn suit regarding the cleanup of arsenic deposited into soils in the town of Middleport, and also represented a responsible party in a $1.5bn case concerning a contaminated sediment Superfund site. David Weinstein is recommended in Tampa, while Kerri Barsh is the key contact in the Miami office, where she handles various environmental assessment and liability matters, along with administrative litigation, rulemaking and permitting challenges. Francis Citera is co-head of the product liability and mass tort litigation group, and has significant experience defending purported class actions and toxic tort actions. Troy Eid specializes in state, federal and tribal matters, and is noted for his expertise in environmental law and energy development on native lands.

Houston-based Carol Wood heads the tort and environmental practice group at King & Spalding LLP, and has significant experience defending energy companies across domestic and international forums, particularly in relation to mining and oil and gas. Patricia Barmeyer and Granta Nakayama are the key contacts in Atlanta and Washington DC respectively; Barmeyer handles climate change and white-collar criminal defense matters, while Nakayama brings significant engineering, technical and energy expertise to the team. Highlights included defending Dow Chemical in water contamination suits filed across the country by municipal entities, and representing Chevron in over 100 suits concerning damage to groundwater, soil and sediments. Rayonier and Halliburton are also clients.

At Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, Los Angeles-based James Dragna is acting as lead counsel in a toxic tort matter for SoCalGas, a dispute involving a natural gas leak in the Aliso Canyon storage facility. John McGahren is the key figure in Princeton, and he and Stephanie Feingold (also in Princeton) recently represented Cranbury Brick Yard in its prosecution of claims concerning the environmental cleanup of a former chemical manufacturing facility in Cranbury. Other highlights included successfully representing International Paper Company in a suit alleging improper disposal of paper mill waste; securing a dismissal of a water contamination suit for Range Resources; and acting for Sherwin-Williams in a contamination suit concerning two NPL sites and one proposed Superfund site. Los Angeles-based David Schrader has a strong energy, automotive and manufacturing client base, and Camarin Madigan is a key practitioner in San Francisco, where she advises developers, landowners and public agencies on contentious environmental issues.

Morrison & Foerster LLP’s expertise includes natural resources and endangered species-related matters, land use litigation, Superfund site issues and class actions. Washington DC-based Deanne Maynard, represented Lummi Nation in its Ninth Circuit appeal of a district court ruling restricting the client’s fishing grounds. The firm also acted for Eastern Municipal Water District, successfully securing a dismissal of a CWA citizen suit brought by California River Watch, which alleged sewer overflows and discharged pollutants beyond legally permissible levels. In San Francisco, Michèle Corash is the former general counsel of the EPA, and William Tarantino is noted for his expertise in consumer protection law. Tarantino recently acted for Lumber Liquidators in over 130 class action cases across 28 states - $50bn bet-the-company litigation concerning excessive carcinogen levels in the client’s flooring product. In Los Angeles, Peter Hsiao heads the green products and chemistry team, advising on natural resources, toxic tort and land use disputes. Other clients include Seagate Technology, Consolidated Edison Development and the State of Utah. Since publication, former practice head Christopher Carr has moved to Baker Botts L.L.P..

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP’s ‘excellent’ team provides ‘a very high-quality service’. In San Francisco, Margaret Rosegay is ‘an astute environmental attorney and a great compliance strategist’; she and Norman Carlin acted for Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and Independent Oil Producers Agency (IOPA) in three hydraulic fracturing cases filed by various environmental organizations. Christopher McNevin heads the environmental litigation department from Austin, and Mark Elliott is the key figure in Los Angeles; McNevin and Elliott are representing Whittaker Corporation in a CERCLA case regarding defense contracting activities and the resulting response costs. The duo are also acting for Teck Resources in a range of matters, including handling settlement agreements with the US government and the EPA. Other clients include American Petroleum Institute, Chevron and Duke Energy.

Vinson & Elkins LLP has a strong reputation for defending and obtaining major development project permits, and for securing multi-state project approvals involving pipelines, transmission lines and natural resources issues. The firm also has a notable contamination and accident response practice, and handles complex matters involving multiple stakeholders. Practice head Larry Nettles and counsel Taylor Pullins recently defended Mitsui in a cost recovery suit concerning a Superfund site in Pasadena, Texas, where cleanup costs were estimated at $30m. In other recent work, Jim Thompson was part of a team that acted for Plains All-American Pipeline in a federal class action lawsuit regarding a crude oil spill from a pump station in Missouri. Other key practitioners include Washington DC-based Kevin Gaynor, who has ‘broad and deep experience in environmental litigation’ and ‘is invaluable in helping the client strategically manage its environmental liabilities’, and Lewis Sutherland, who is ‘careful, meticulous, and has an impressive grasp of technical and legal issues’. Named lawyers are based in Houston, unless otherwise stated.

Providing ‘excellent advice in a timely manner’, the lawyers at Baker & Hostetler LLP have ‘a great depth of knowledge’ and are ‘thorough and reasoned in their research and advice’. The team is adept at handling the full gamut of environmental issues, including CERCLA cost recovery, CWA and wetlands issues, air compliance and multi-party defense litigation. Robert Steinwurtzel heads the practice from Washington DC, where Andrew Grossman is also recommended, particularly for high-stakes litigation before the Supreme Court and the courts of appeals. Cleveland-based Martin Booher is ‘practical, intelligent and extremely knowledgeable about the arcana of environmental law’; he recently represented Big River Steel in a CAA lawsuit filed by Nucor, successfully defeating an attempt to revoke an air permit issued to the client at both district court and appellate level. Other highlights included defending the Port of Portland in a major CERCLA natural resource damages matter, and acting for Westmoreland Resource Partners in a mitigation dispute against the EPA.

Goodwin’s key areas of expertise include contaminated sediment sites, natural resource damage claims, hardrock mining issues and Superfund site cost recovery cases. The group also has a strong track record in bet-the-company litigation, acting for well-known names in enforcement proceedings filed by the EPA. Department head Laurence Kirsch acts for Rohm and Haas Chemicals, a Dow Chemical subsidiary, in the Berry’s Creek Study Area contamination suit; a major Superfund matter involving multi-party ADR allocation proceedings and EPA negotiations. The firm also represented the National Mining Association, successfully obtaining a Ninth Circuit ruling of no CERCLA liability for air emissions originating from manufacturing plants. Michael Giannotto is a recognized expert in the domestic and international hardrock mining field; Boston-based Gregory Bibler handles cost recovery and toxic tort litigation; and William Jay is one of the heads of the firm’s appellate litigation practice. Union Carbide, American Petroleum Institute and UniFirst are also clients. Individuals mentioned are based in Washington DC, unless otherwise stated.

Jones Day has notable strength in the field of climate change, and also receives a solid flow of mandates from the chemical, energy, waste management and metals and mining sectors. Kevin Holewinski heads the department from Washington DC, and has extensive experience in climate change and toxic tort matters; Thomas Donnelly practices environmental and insurance coverage law; and John Rego brings significant chemical engineering expertise. David DiMeglio focuses on mass tort and product liability litigation, and recently represented Chevron in a series of state, civil, criminal and regulatory lawsuits concerning oil seeps in the Frade Reservoir of the Campos Basin. Other work included defending Procter & Gamble in a civil penalty action concerning hazardous waste regulations, securing an appellate victory for OGE Energy in a CAA action brought by Sierra Club, and acting for NACCO Industries in Supreme Court litigation concerning oil and gas rights.

K&L Gates’ ‘exceptional’ team includes several former prosecutors and regulatory lawyers with experience at the EPA, Department of Justice and Department of Energy. Noteworthy individuals include Newark-based Dawn Lamparello, who handles litigation and regulatory compliance matters; New York-based B. David Naidu, who focuses on complex multi-party matters; and Seattle-based Ankur Tohan, whose expertise includes natural resource development and citizen enforcement actions. The firm is defending Range Resources in enforcement proceedings brought by the Pennsylvania DEP, which allege that the client’s gas well operations resulted in methane contamination of groundwater supplies. Other work highlights included representing King County in an ongoing Superfund cleanup cost allocation process, and defending oyster processing company Wiegardt Brothers against criminal allegations under the Clean Water Act. American Water Works, United Technologies and BNSF Railway are also clients.

The lawyers at Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP have ‘a deep knowledge of civil and criminal environmental issues’, and ‘consistently provide strategic and practical advice within agreed timeframes’. The team represents energy, chemical, refining and construction companies, among others, and has notable experience in major accident response matters and safety management. Recent work includes representing DuPont in a case concerning a catastrophic toxic environmental release, resulting in multiple fatalities, and acting for Dow Chemical in a case concerning a chemical explosion at the client’s Massachusetts facility. Nadira Clarke heads the litigation practice from Washington DC and, along with Lily Chinn, is representing Wood Group Power Plant Services in a joint federal-state investigation into alleged CAA violations. Greg Dillard is also a key figure, focusing on major accident response and EHS issues; Dillard is representing Phillips 66 in challenging citations issued by Washington State OSHA, and also chairs the firm’s process safety advocacy group. Mark Farley and Steven Solow jointly head the environmental practice from Houston and Washington DC respectively.

McDermott Will & Emery LLP is noted for its strength in the energy sector, and has significant expertise in product liability, toxic tort and environmental contamination litigation. James Pardo acts for clients in the oil and gas, healthcare and technology sectors, and continues to represent ExxonMobil in various mass tort, product liability, environmental contamination and natural resource damage cases brought by public water providers. The firm also acts for Martin County, Florida in a dispute against the US Department of Transportation regarding a proposed intercity passenger railroad. Jacob Hollinger handles compliance and litigation for manufacturing and financial sector clients, and Lisa Gerson advises on toxic tort, product liability and environmental regulation issues. All named individuals are based in New York.

Perkins Coie LLP’s environmental expertise includes Superfund litigation, enforcement defense, Administrative Procedure Act litigation and toxic tort actions. Highlights included representing Weyerhaeuser in a multi-party CERCLA cost recovery litigation concerning PCB sediment contamination in the Kalamazoo River; acting for Boeing in several remediation cost recovery matters; and representing the Indiana Department of Transportation in a $3bn federal court litigation challenging the Interstate 69 Evansville-to-Indianapolis project. The firm also represents clients in litigation and pre-litigation with regards to various contaminated sites including the Chula Vista Bayfront, the Gowanus Canal in New York and Portland Harbor in Oregon. Other key clients include Chevron, Shell Oil Company, Donlin Gold and Stanford University. Seattle-based Karen McGaffey and Mark Schneider are the primary contacts.

Through a strong presence in Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington DC, the team at Steptoe & Johnson LLP provides a ‘very high level of service’ and is ‘strongly recommended for environmental litigation’. Practice chair Robert Shuftan is ‘a very good attorney, whose strengths include strategy development and client relations’, and Anthony Hopp has ‘great industry knowledge, and is highly skilled in document discovery’. The firm successfully defeated a punitive damage claim for Shell in Potter v Shell Chemical, a $50m groundwater contamination case concerning 465 properties in Florida where the chemical dieldrin was detected in over 100 drinking wells. Other highlights included representing Pebble Limited Partnership in a CWA case involving the EPA’s proposed veto of the Pebble Mine Project in southwest Alaska; the team successfully obtained a preliminary injunction barring the EPA’s veto.

White & Case LLP’s group includes Miami-based practice head Douglas Halsey, and counsel Seth Kerschner in New York, who is noted for his expertise in climate change issues, governmental cleanups, and Superfund and CWA disputes. The firm recently handled several high-profile matters at the Florida Supreme Court; these included successfully representing the sponsor of a proposed constitutional amendment, which would allow the ownership of solar equipment for personal use while preserving the government’s ability to effectively regulate the technology. The New York team is also representing Pfizer in a major Superfund site matter, where total remedial costs are estimated to be between $5bn and $10bn. Other key clients include Hess Corporation, Florida Power & Light Co, Toyota and Newmont Mining.

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