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Toxic Tort Litigation

Toxic Tort Litigation


Overview

Our Toxic Tort Litigation attorneys have extensive national experience defending against individual and class claims of personal injury and/or property damage allegedly caused by environmental contamination or exposure to chemical products.  Our experience also includes the defense of claims asserting liability under major environmental statutes, such as CERCLA, RCRA, and the Clean Water Act.

Our experienced litigators have handled a variety of environmental cases, ranging from cost recovery and contribution actions under CERCLA to insurance coverage disputes, and from citizen suits brought against municipalities under the Clean Water Act to litigation involving the siting of a low-level radioactive waste disposal facility.  We are familar with managing the novel legal theories and at managing the complex scientific and technical issues often involved in this type of litigation.  Our experience gives us special capabilities to understand and effectively resolve claims for our clients.

The litigation experience of our attorneys is widely recognized in legal and business communities.  Our Toxic Tort Litigation attorneys have solid credentials, including strong writing skills and trial and appellate experience.  We work closely with technical staff and expert witnesses on medical, engineering, and scientific issues, and keep abreast of pertinent developments in such fields as toxicology and epidemiology.

Smith Moore Leatherwood has served for more than 20 years as national coordinating counsel for Monsanto Company (now Solutia Inc.) with regard to all claims involving PCBs.  This representation has included environmental cleanup cases, equipment retrofit or fire cases, and cases alleging personal injuries or other damages based on exposure to PCBs.  Our work has included trials, legal research projects, expert witness investigations, coordination of discovery, design of computerized litigation databases, and product investigations.  We have extensive experience working with consulting and testifying experts and in challenging the admissibility of adverse expert testimony.  We also regularly assist in developing dispositive motions based on defenses such as the sophisticated user/bulk product defense and the "useful product" defense to "arranger" liability under CERCLA. Based on our national coordinating role, we are familiar with a variety of novel claims, ranging from "environmental justice" claims to those based on "subcellular injury" and stigma damages.

Cases in which we have been significantly involved as national coordinating counsel include:

  • Abernathy v. Monsanto, Calhoun County, Alabama (1996—2003) (thousands of individual claims for personal injury and property damage)
  • Tolbert v. Monsanto, United States District Court, Northern District of Alabama (2001—2003) (thousands of individual claims for personal injury and property damage)
  • Pennsylvania Department of Transportation v. Monsanto, Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court (1990—present) (claim by the State for costs allegedly incurred due to presence of PCBs in building materials)
  • U.S. v. Manzo v. Monsanto, United States District Court, District of New Jersey (1997—present) (third-party claim based on liability of third-party plaintiff to government entities for cleanup costs under CERCLA and the N.J. Spill Act; ruling on motion to dismiss published at 182 F. Supp. 2d 385 (D.N.J. 2000))

Our practice in this area extends well beyond national coordination of PCB litigation.  Additional toxic tort and environmental litigation matters recently handled by Smith Moore Leatherwood include:

  • Crown Cork & Seal v. CBS, United States District Court, Middle District of North Carolina (1996—present) (representation of multiple defendants in action for contribution under section 113 of CERCLA)
  • American Canoe Association v. City of High Point, United States District Court, Middle District of North Carolina (1996—1999) (citizen suit filed under Clean Water Act alleging discharge, reporting, and monitoring violations)
  • GAF Building Materials Corporation, various courts in North Carolina and Georgia (ongoing) (coordinating counsel for thousands of asbestos personal injury actions)
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