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With decades of experience, Michelman & Robinson, LLP’s (M&R’s) Environmental Department has handled virtually every kind of environmentally-related legal matter.

We understand how environmental issues can substantially impact business, and counsel clients on a variety of environmental services. These include large transactions involving the purchase and sale of real property, industrial facilities and other real estate, such as Brownfields; financings; and asset sales involving environmentally impacted properties or exposures. Our attorneys foresee potential environmental concerns and maximize business objectives while minimizing risk. We are internationally recognized for conducting due diligence in connection with hundreds of environmental transactions for a broad spectrum of entities, including real estate development companies, corporations, insurance carriers and financial institutions.

Our Environmental attorneys have routinely and aggressively litigated environmental disputes for clients before administrative tribunals, regulatory agencies, and in-state and federal courts. The environmental litigation matters we have handled range from enormous Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) cost recovery or contribution actions in where hundreds of millions of dollars are at issue, to smaller disputes over cleanup obligations arising under indemnification agreements. We have also represented numerous clients in the defense of “toxic tort” cases alleging injuries from exposure to contaminants or pollutants – whether in water, soil or air. 

Environmental law requirements and processes continue to evolve and expand. We are adept at providing counsel on permitting and compliance related issues, and in partnership with environmental consultants, the development and implementation of cost-effective cleanup remedies on behalf of our clients. We assist our clients in keeping up with environmental best practices, and conducting self-audits in a logical and protected fashion.

Our Environmental attorneys also have vast experience negotiating with regulatory agencies to avoid costly litigation on a wide range of environmental matters, including cleanup obligations, pollutant emissions and discharges, and permit compliance issues. 

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Areas Of Expertise

The following is a select sampling of our representative matters:

  • CERCLA Summary Judgment: M&R’s client was sued for water pollution in federal court under various theories. We succeeded in arguing that our client could not be considered a proper “arranger” under CERCLA, and that it could not be liable under the law of nuisance, which had never previously been done in the Northern District.
  • Environmental Defense: On behalf of a manufacturer alleged to have contributed to the contamination of a large Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) Superfund site, negotiated a first of its kind $400 million joint water supply/contaminant cleanup project. The negotiations between and among the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), U.S. Attorney General’s Office, several water supply companies and numerous potentially responsible parties lasted for more than a year, with the resulting project serving as a model for future USEPA-driven Superfund settlements.
  • Environmental Response: Litigated an environmental response matter arising out of mandated cleanup costs for toxic chemicals allegedly disbursed by a dry cleaning business. Convinced the plaintiff that other parties were responsible for the polluted water, thereby avoiding cleanup payments.
  • Insurance Coverage: Represented product manufacturers in lawsuits with the corporation’s liability insurers arising out of environmental and toxic tort claims. We were able to overcome numerous challenges by the insurers, including claims that underlying layers of coverage were not exhausted and occurrences did not take place in particular policy years, to drive the insurers to the settlement table.
  • Municipality Toxic Tort/Legislative Investigation: Successful in launching a legislative investigation on behalf of his municipality client into the environmental conditions at a prominent high school, arising out of allegations that the operation of an oil well immediately adjacent to the high school was posing serious health risks to teachers, students and neighboring property owners. The case was eventually dismissed against our client.
  • Proposition 65 Cases: Represented product manufacturers in California Proposition 65 cases relating to the corporation’s products, including, for example, a bicycle manufacturer defending claims that the cables on its bicycles were subject to Proposition 65 disclosures.
  • Toxic Tort Defense: Represented a multinational corporation in the defense of a toxic tort case filed by more than 1,500 residents claiming injuries due to the ingestion of contaminated drinking water. An M&R attorney was one of the key members of the joint defense group, which after numerous appeals, including to the California Supreme Court, achieved a very favorable settlement.
  • Toxic Tort: Litigated a large $500 million water contamination case. Developed a multi-party strategy to reduce the number of exposed wells, due to the lack of evidence of pollutants exceeding the government maximum concentration levels (MCL). After numerous successful motions, the amount was reduced by 90 percent and the number of affected water wells was cut from 244 to 14.
  • Whistleblower Litigation: Successfully defended an environmental consultant in an employment retaliation and discrimination lawsuit while concurrently defending a Qui Tam whistleblower case that involved a related criminal investigation. M&R attorneys regularly counsel clients and handle matters arising out of the California State Water Resource Control Board’s Office of Enforcement and involving the Underground Storage Tank Fund. 

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