Given the high-profile nature of the litigation we handle, our trial lawyers have significant experience with complex environmental matters involving various U.S. government agencies. Our team is adept at navigating the rapidly-changing nuances of environmental law and regulations.
In 2014, we represented Waste Management, Inc. and Waste Management of Texas, Inc. in a case brought by Harris County, Texas alleging over 40 years of discharges into the San Jacinto River from a dump site containing paper mill waste that was abandoned in the late 1960s, seeking daily penalties totaling over $3 billion from Waste Management and its affiliates. After significant Waste Management pre-trial victories and a trial on the merits, on the morning closing arguments were scheduled Harris County agreed to settle with Waste Management for $29.2 million.
Following the settlement, individual plaintiffs alleging personal injuries from exposure to the paper mill waste began prosecuting what had been, during the Harris County case, a consolidated but inactive matter. Those plaintiffs, now numbering over 600, allege over $700 million in personal injury and property damages against Waste Management, its affiliates, and co-defendant International Paper, Inc. Discovery is currently ongoing.
The City of Houston
We represented the City of Houston in defense of several of its ordinances, including its air quality ordinance, anti-smoking ordinance, and its concrete crushing ordinance. We have also worked with the City in connection with the City’s environmental efforts before the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). In addition to representation in litigation in federal and state court, our work for the City has involved assistance in administrative processes before the TCEQ, drafting ordinances and government procedures, and assistance in the City’s efforts to challenge a permit issued by the TCEQ to a large industrial refinery inside the City limits.