Industries Served

Environment

Representative Experience

  • Principal environmental cost recovery counsel for a major railroad, representing it in dozens of environmental contribution and cost recovery matters across the western United States
  • Recovered several million dollars in response costs in connection with regional lead contamination arising from mining operations; we reconstructed a detailed history of operations down to the volume and nature of lead shipments, stretching back to the 1800s; with this evidence, we developed an innovative theory of allocable liability that resulted in a very favorable settlement without litigation
  • Successfully prosecuted a cost recovery claim for significant PCB contamination related to an industrial facility in the Northeast that our client had acquired in a stock transaction decades ago; we established that the source of PCB contamination arose from a business line that had been divested prior to the acquisition, resulting in a resolution that led to the successor of the selling company to assume responsibility for PCB contamination in a nearby waterway
  • Recovered several million dollars in an environmental cost recovery suit from scrap metal defendants, or their successors, who operated over a span of 35 years on our client's property; most of the prior operators were either dead, dissolved or without money but substantial sums were paid by their successors or their insurers; the settlement was reached early in the case after a complex series of mediations involving dozens of principals and attorneys
  • Represented the acquirer of a note for a shopping center property in foreclosure against the tenants of a dry cleaner and the former owners of the property; in this environmental cost recovery suit, we recovered nearly all of the substantial remediation costs from the defendant's insurers and the California Insurance Guarantee Association
  • Recovered the costs of environmental cleanup against a number of former tenants including a major metal treating company that had reorganized under Chapter 11
  • Represented a landowner who had acquired property that included an abandoned underground storage tank; in a lawsuit under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), we obtained a consent decree in which the seller of the property was required to remove the tank, assess and remediate the contamination, and pay for our attorneys’ fees; this action was brought under 42 U.S.C. section 6972(a) (1) A) for violating applicable Underground Storage Tanks (UST) regulations; this appears to have been the first time this section has been used in this manner
  • Served as lead counsel for 14 defendants in an environmental cost recovery action; led the negotiations that resulted in a favorable settlement for several thousands of dollars per party at the site of a former waste oil recycling facility; accomplished the results before the commencement of any discovery
  • Acted as lead counsel defending an action brought by 2,800 plaintiffs alleging bodily injury and property damage arising from a regional plume of contaminated groundwater; represented almost two dozen defendants and coordinated the group's joint defense and negotiation efforts; reached a very favorable settlement within several months
  • Obtained dismissal of an environmental lawsuit brought by the State of California against the owner of a high-rise office building, which was affirmed by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
  • In a series of lawsuits by citizens groups opposing development of a big-box retail store in the City of La Habra, we obtained a settlement of the first round of litigation and then a judgment, affirmed on appeal, in our client’s favor, on the second round of litigation, after one of the settling objectors reneged on the first settlement
  • During litigation controlled and financed by a neighboring property owner, we successfully defended in the trial court, and in the court of appeal, the approval by the City of El Segundo of a million square-foot, mixed-use development
  • Successfully defended in the Superior Court and on appeal, against a challenge, on CEQA and zoning grounds, to the approval of a variance by the City of Los Angeles that allowed our client’s commercial development in a residential neighborhood
  • Successfully defended in the Superior Court and on appeal, against a challenge, on CEQA and zoning grounds, to the approval by the California Coastal Commission of a coastal development permit for our client’s mixed-use development
  • Provided litigation counseling and assistance to a developer with regard to CEQA and land use challenges to the approval of, and with regard to, eminent domain issues that arose in property acquisition for a major mixed-use redevelopment project at Hollywood and Vine; the challenges to the project approval and to the use of eminent domain were all either defeated or settled
  • Represented our client in the sale of a contaminated 45-acre site, formerly used for automotive manufacturing and other industrial operations, to Los Angeles Unified School District for use as a school site
  • Addressed and managed the environmental risks for the buyer of the contaminated site of a former aluminum refinery; included in our representation was working closely with a major insurer in manuscripting an environmental insurance policy that covered the known contamination
  • Experienced in environmental due diligence for a NYSE company in a merger transaction involving another NYSE company, which owned or operated numerous facilities in the U.S., Canada and 49 other countries
  • Practice background in representing a pension fund advisor in a $99 million acquisition of 10 industrial parks, each composed of 10-15 separate industrial occupancies
  • Represented a real estate investment trust in the environmental due diligence, acquisition and leaseback of over 50 properties nationwide from a national automotive service company
  • Practice experience in representing two major financial institutions acquiring a significant equity interest in Playa Vista, one of Southern California's largest and most controversial developments
  • Advise a national importer on environmental consumer product labeling issues for products imported primarily from Southeast Asia; this included labeling requirements for Proposition 65, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) content and hazardous substances
  • Assisting a developer in complying with various environmental regulatory requirements arising from the acquisition of an operating defense industry facility for residential redevelopment; this process has involved negotiations with five separate regulatory agencies to obtain site closure and other necessary approvals; using health risk assessment and other risk management tools, we enabled the client to reach an agreement to sell the property to a national home builder before completion of site cleanup
  • Represent a municipal client on various compliance and counseling issues involving the Regional Water Quality Control Board, including NPDES compliance and sewage discharge matters
  • Represent a municipal client with respect to various compliance and counseling issues involving the Air Quality Management District (AQMD)
  • Counseled a wood-floors manufacturing client regarding compliance with newly enacted AQMD rules
  • Represented a regional shopping center developer that demolished asbestos laden buildings; the demolition precipitated enforcement actions by a local health care agency, CalOSHA and the district attorney
  • Achieved successful resolution of claims with a reasonable fine, avoided prosecution and avoided adverse publicity
  • Managed issues for an industrial concern charged with unlawful wastewater discharge to the river; resulted in a minimal fine and elimination of unjustified agency investigation fees
  • Represented private parties and public agencies in preparation of, or response to, environmental impact reports in connection with large, complex real estate development projects
  • Represented Beverly Hills hotel owner/developer in major entitlement and variance proceedings
  • Appeared before numerous federal, state and local agencies on compliance and rule-making matters.  With our client’s assistance, formed the Southern California Bakers Air Quality Association to represent the area’s nine largest commercial bakers regarding development of South Coast Air Quality Management District Rule 1153, which controls ethanol emissions from large commercial bakeries; achieved negotiated rule that saved Association members in excess of several million dollars in capital and operational costs
  • Represented small and medium-sized businesses in the RECLAIM program, which is a SCQAMD initiative to adopt an emissions trading, market incentives, air quality control program
  • Represented Printing Industry Association of Southern California in major Superfund site controversy
  • Counseled Association of Textile Dyers and Printers & Finishers of Southern California in rule-making air quality proceedings before the SCAQMD
  • Worked with a municipal client to reclaim areas used for private oil production and develop those areas into parkland using a combination of state, federal, local and private funding; representation included successful litigation against the current oil operator and mineral rights owner
  • Experienced in representing a regional shopping center developer in redeveloping a 35-acre portion of a 160-acre, heavily contaminated former defense and aerospace manufacturing site in the heart of a Los Angeles suburb; the complex and successful transaction involved federal, state and local agencies and several major private redevelopers
  • Represented an aerospace manufacturer at a major Southern California Superfund site in proceedings, allocating liability among dozens of other potentially responsible parties; through arbitration, we appealed the initial allocation and won a 95 percent reduction in our client's liability; we later helped negotiate a favorable consent decree with U.S. EPA
  • Representing a group of over 20 companies whom U.S. EPA has alleged are responsible parties at a major Superfund site in California, the group is defending against EPA's claims on the ground that the waste attributed to them was contaminated with petroleum only - a substance that is not within the scope of the federal Superfund law
  • Represented the San Joaquin Valley dairy industry in recent high-profile litigation against the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District regarding newly enacted rules for the permitting and regulation of dairies under SB 700; lawsuit resulted in a far-reaching settlement that will allow the dairy industry to participate with the district in developing regulations and permitting requirements that are based on the best available science;  it also restricts the district from imposing certain regulatory requirements; we continue to represent the dairy industry as it works with the district towards the development and implementation of reasonable regulations
  • Experience includes representing a baking industry coalition before South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) in its attempts to curtail Reactive Organic Gas (ROG) emissions arising from baking processes. Successfully negotiated a substantial compromise to the proposed rule, which met with the agreement of both industry and SCAQMD; this was the first time in SCAQMD history that both industry and regulators agreed on a rule for limiting ROG emissions
  • Represented a national retailer in proceedings before the California Air Resources Board (CARB) relating to the sale of thousands of products that exceeded California VOCs content restrictions; successfully negotiated with CARB to reduce the six-figure penalty to a nominal amount
  • Represented a client in an eminent domain case brought by a pipeline utility; we used the leverage of a challenge to the utility’s right to take our client’s property to obtain a settlement imposing work rules that eliminated any adverse impact of the utility’s construction work on our client’s operations
  • Successfully defended in the Superior Court and on appeal, against a challenge, on CEQA and zoning grounds, to the approval of a variance by the City of Los Angeles that allowed our client’s commercial development in a residential neighborhood
  • Successfully defended in the Superior Court and on appeal against a challenge, on CEQA and zoning grounds, to the approval by the California Coastal Commission of a coastal development permit for our client’s mixed-use development
  • In an action brought by the City of Culver City seeking to terminate oil and gas leases burdening a city park, we successfully resisted the oil company’s motion for summary judgment on grounds that induced the oil company to settle on a basis favorable to the city
  • Represented San Vicente-Montana Association in a challenge to the environmental review of an office and retail development in West Los Angeles; the litigation resulted in an unpublished U.S. Court of Appeals decision in our client’s favor
  • Worked with a municipal client to reclaim areas used for private oil production and develop those areas into parkland using a combination of state, federal, local and private funding; our work included successful litigation against the oil production operator and mineral rights owner

For more information as to the services we provide the Environmental Industry, please visit our Environmental Law page and/or contact David E. Cranston.

Representative Experience
  • Ongoing representation of an investment trust focused on alternative energy companies and other clean tech industries; counsel includes structuring, negotiating and documenting private investment in public companies (PIPE) transactions and numerous investments in venture-stage companies, ranging from start-ups to late-round financings; representation also includes preparing and managing the trust’s U.S. securities filing obligations and coordinating similar international filing obligations
  • Advised a utility on its carbon emission reporting obligations
  • Counseled on a $36 million investment in convertible preferred stock and common stock of World Water and Solar Technologies, a solar engineering and water management company; the clean tech developer provides solutions to water supply and energy problems including to agribusiness and irrigation, water utilities, food processing plants, and refrigeration and cooling systems
  • Staged a $12 million investment in ThermoEnergy Corporation, an integrated technologies company seeking to develop and commercialize patented water treatment and clean natural gas energy technologies
  • Staged $18 million investment in common stock and warrants of Axion Power International, Inc., which is developing super capacitive lead-acid-carbon energy storage devices combining battery and super capacitor performance characteristics
  • Structured a $12 million investment in common stock and warrants to purchase common stock of Solar EnerTech Corp., a manufacturer of high quality photovoltaic (PV) solar energy cells and state-of-the-art solar applications
  • Served as senior legal officer for a venture capital-backed, “distributed generation” company, which provides on-site electric and thermal energy power plants serving office, industrial, retail and hotel facilities.  Successfully negotiated and closed more than 30 energy supply transactions over a three-year period as part of multi-unit growth plan; company was sold in 2004 as part of industry consolidation and we were responsible for all regulatory and compliance matters with local, state and federal agencies
  • For Informatica Corp. of Redwood City, we negotiated a number of professional services and other deals with Fortune 100 companies, leading railroads and electric utilities
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