Environmental Law

We assist businesses and landowners with a wide range of environmental law matters. Our expertise extends to state and federal environmental compliance, representation before state environmental agencies and related enforcement matters, and cost recovery litigation. We are familiar with virtually every type of environmental contamination, including cases involving PERC, gasoline, diesel & motor oil, lead, arsenic, dioxin, and other toxic chemicals. We have represented a number of business and property owners, including owners of former underground storage sites, gasoline stations, dry cleaners, and other industrial and manufacturing businesses. We also have existing relationships with several outstanding experts, many of whom have formerly worked for the agencies in question and can provide valuable insights into the internal workings of these organizations, as well as assist with the investigation and cleanup.

Administrative Representation

Complying with state and federal environmental regulation is an issue many businesses and landowners face. We have appeared on behalf of clients before California's various environmental agencies, including the California Environmental Protection Agency's Department of Toxic Substances Control and the State Water Resources Control Board.  We work closely with experienced environmental experts and consultants at every stage in the administrative process.

We have also worked to help locate and trigger insurance coverage for our clients to pay for investigation and clean up costs, often from past insurance coverage held by our clients, their tenants and/or other neighboring businesses and/or landowners.

Our experience in this area of law includes numerous complex and noteworthy cases. In one recent matter, we represented a property owner against the regional Water Quality Control Board who faced substantial fines due to alleged lead contamination. Our client was only one of several owners of the contaminated property, and yet the Board demanded that she bear all of the cleanup costs when the other owners refused to participate. After staff tried to enforce a $225,000 fine, we were able to persuade the Board to reject the fine and take steps to involve the other landowners, as well as a local municipality, in the clean-up. Additionally, we have defended clients in several cases involving significant groundwater and soil contamination at locations throughout the Central Valley.  

Cost Recovery Litigation

In many cases, the contamination on the land began long before the current owner purchased the property. However, under the law the current owner is often responsible for any cleanup that is required. When this occurs, we can pursue and defend lawsuits to recover the cleanup costs against all previous owners that may be responsible for the contamination. Frequently attorneys do not understand how best to pursue these actions. In one recent case we had to step into the shoes of the former (3rd) attorney file suit to recover unpaid attorney’s fees and investigative costs the insurance carriers had refused to pay (we recovered the lion’s share of these unpaid fees through settlement).