The firm’s Environmental/Toxic Tort Practice is led by California-based Co-Chairs Gery Zacher and Michael Pietrykowski, both of whom have extensive first-chair trial experience throughout California as well as significant experience serving as California, Western Region and National Litigation Coordinating Counsel for Fortune 100 companies. Our Environmental/Toxic Tort attorneys are familiar with both federal and state issues involving site assessment, clean-up/regulatory compliance, administrative and judicial enforcement, and Superfund cost recovery and contribution claims, both as private practitioners and government prosecutors.
We have well-proven experience with a comprehensive range of regulated chemicals, toxic waste and other substances, including silica, mold, lead, petroleum hydrocarbons, methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), benzene or chlorinated solvents, ethylene oxide, mercury, nickel, chromium, heavy metals (arsenic and vanadium), agricultural chemicals (fertilizers and pesticides), asbestos, and painting products and solvents.
Our clients include manufacturers, iron and steel recyclers and fabricators, waste disposal firms, lumber mills, marine contractors, farmers' cooperatives, business/property owners, chemical manufacturers, excavation companies, agricultural chemical manufacturers, automobile dealerships, dry cleaning industry suppliers, paint and solvent manufacturers, commercial real estate developers, electronics manufacturers, automobile products companies, petroleum companies, ink manufacturer, construction contractors, industrial chemical manufacturers, and gasoline distributors and stations.
We are thoroughly familiar with all major environmental statutes, including the Federal Clean Water Act (CWA), Clean Air Act (CAA), Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA, or Superfund), Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), Pipeline Safety Improvement Act of 2020 (PSIA), National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuary Act (MPRSA), Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), and Proposition 65 (California's Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Tort Enforcement Act of 1986).
Our track record of successful results includes matters involving the insured’s property, third party bodily injury and property damage claims (including natural resource damage claims), first and third party pollution incidents resulting from transportation and waste storage and disposal activities, underground and above-ground storage tanks release incidents, indoor air quality, contaminated drinking water, hazardous substance and oil spills, first and third party on-site and off-site remediation, cost recovery, and natural resource damage claims, claims relating to medical, biological, infectious and pathological wastes, and governmental environmental regulatory enforcement proceedings on local, state, and federal levels.
Gordon & Rees's capabilities relative to Superfund and environmental regulatory actions include complex civil and criminal Federal and state environmental regulatory matters arising under all environmental media (solid and hazardous waste, water, air, pesticides and toxics) and complex Superfund matters that relate to cleanup remedies and cost recovery/contribution actions.
We have substantial government regulatory compliance, contract review and regulatory counseling capabilities, and frequently represent clients in regulatory proceedings that require extensive negotiations to develop the most cost-effective permitting and soil and groundwater investigative and remedial strategies. Our team works with the EPA, DOJ, Department of the Interior, US Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as numerous State regulatory agencies and local air pollution control districts regarding permit enforcement and citizen challenge proceedings, cleanup and abatement orders, cost recovery actions, natural resource damage claims, voluntary cleanups, and the securing of no further action assurances.
We assist clients in managing their environmental exposures and, as a result, their environmental liabilities. Gordon & Rees provides a unique combination of extensive insurance experience with extensive environmental experience. Gordon & Rees also has a well established network of experts and consultants available for necessary services to assist in the evaluation and defense of environmental/toxic tort exposures and liabilities, and to provide risk management, regulatory compliance, voluntary and government-mandated cleanups, and preparation for privileged internal and government investigations and other actions.
Gordon & Rees’s national Asbestos Practice is led by three partners, Michael Pietrykowski, James Scadden, and Robert Rich, each with more than 20 years of experience defending private and public entity clients involved in asbestos personal injury litigation. Together, they have an unmatched jury trial record having tried more than 50 multi-party asbestos related cases to verdict. They are recognized as experts in asbestos litigation defense, having established themselves as pioneers who played instrumental roles in the development of this body of law. Highlights of their leadership backgrounds and their well-established qualifications are summarized below.
Gordon & Rees has defended many different types of mold-related lawsuits, representing developers, contractors, sub-contractors, property owners and managers, HOA, manufacturers of construction products, and many other types of defendants in the mold litigation. These cases have involved construction, personal injury, landlord-tenant and insurance issues. As mold litigation has expanded, so have the types of defendants. The firm has also been called upon to represent the professionals (including industrial hygienists, remediation contractors, and others) involved in mold prevention, investigation, testing and remediation.
In addition to representing a variety of defendants in litigation, Gordon & Rees lawyers also counsel and educate a diverse range of clients from large national property owners and managers to small local property owners and their employees on important mold issues including prevention, abatement, O&M plans, mold protocols, insurance, contracts and the selection of appropriate mold contractors and consultants. As a result of these efforts, Gordon & Rees has developed an extensive library of deposition transcripts, research papers and other critical materials necessary for the defense of any mold claim. Similarly, we have an extensive legal research library on issues which arise in mold cases and have a "brief" bank which includes pre-trial motions, summary judgment motions, and other motions addressing issues that commonly arise in the mold litigation. We have also worked with many different mold experts and consultants and maintain strong relationships with the leading engineers, doctors and scientists who are involved in mold research and consulting work. Additionally, Gordon & Rees attorneys have been invited to speak and present the latest trends and issues in mold litigation at various local and national conferences.