Environmental LawParker, Milliken was among the first law firms in Southern California to specialize in Environmental Law, establishing its practice in this field in the early 1980s. The Department's Chair, Gary A. Meyer, has had over 30 years experience representing the regulated community in numerous cutting-edge environmental litigation, enforcement, compliance, contaminated property transactions and cleanup matters. Mr. Meyer has been chosen multiple times by his peers as a California Super Lawyer in the practice of Environmental Law. Mr. Meyer is the past Chair of the Los Angeles County Bar’s Environmental Law Section and is a current member of the State Bar’s Environmental Law Section’s Executive Committee.
Since 1985 the firm’s Environmental Law Department has hosted the longest running Environmental Law Seminar in California. This year, our 29th Annual Seminar is scheduled for May 10th at the Omni Hotel.
Parker Milliken’s Environmental Law Department has expertise in all aspects of environmental law, including regulatory compliance, contaminated real property transactions, toxic tort litigation, CERCLA and State Superfund, Proposition 65 cases, as well as administrative, civil and criminal enforcement defense. Our attorneys regularly appear before a host of federal, state and local agencies in assisting clients through the regulatory maze concerning soil, groundwater and air contamination and remediation. Members of our Department regularly represent corporations, public entities and corporate executives in a variety of complex environmental litigation involving cost recovery, toxic torts as well as criminal and civil enforcement matters. Examples of the group's practice areas follow:
Defense of Environmental Enforcement MattersAttorneys of the group have successfully defended corporate and individual clients in a number of landmark California hazardous waste civil and criminal multi-count felony and misdemeanor actions filed by such prosecutorial agencies as the United States Attorney, Department of Justice, the Los Angeles County Environmental Crimes Unit, the California Attorney General's Office and Cal-EPA. Our clients have included Fortune 500 companies as well as public agencies and/or their employees and officers in matters involving allegations of improper disposal, transportation, reporting, as well as worker safety issues. In Los Angeles Chemical Company v. Superior Court, 226 Cal.App.3d 703 (1990), we were successful in convincing the California Court of Appeal to establish new California law by upholding businesses' constitutional rights against warrantless environmental inspections.
Cost Recovery Proceedings for Soil and Groundwater ContaminationOur Department members regularly represent corporate clients named as potentially responsible parties in substantial state and federal Superfund sites involving cleanup and cost recovery matters initiated by state and federal agencies and/or by private parties. Our group also has experience in bringing and defending cost recovery actions for soil and groundwater contamination under the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act ("CERCLA"), California's Hazardous Substance Account Act and other State and federal statutes and common law causes of actions.
Toxic TortsMembers of our Department have both initiated and defended against common-law and statutory toxic tort claims for damage to real property and personal injury caused by hazardous waste contamination, litigating many novel legal issues in California in this fast-emerging area of cost recovery litigation. In defense of a recent major matter that asserted significant claims of both property damage and personal injuries against a high profile California state agency and its employees, we successfully won a complete defense verdict on a pre-trial motion. We were involved in the defense of California's largest real property toxic tort litigation matter involving alleged groundwater contamination in the San Gabriel Valley. On behalf of the joint defense group of approximately 100 corporate entities we successfully petitioned the court for the dismissal of plaintiffs’ punitive damages claims. In a current high profile toxic tort and property damage matter we have been successful in having dismissed 900 of the initial 1,100 plaintiffs who filed actions against our public agency clients.
Brownfield DevelopmentOur Department has considerable expertise in the burgeoning federal, state and local laws that allow property owners and developers to more cost effectively remediate, develop and sell contaminated properties. We are also involved in the negotiation of prospective purchaser agreements with the U.S.-EPA, as well as other environmental agencies, thus enabling our clients to acquire contaminated properties with lessened risk. Mr. Meyer recently successfully negotiated a cutting-edge prospective purchase agreement with the U.S.-EPA for a Fortune 100 client which enabled a multi-million dollar transaction to be completed. Mr. Meyer is currently coordinating with DTSC on obtainment of a prospective purchaser agreement so that a large industrial property can be reused as a medical facility. Both our experience with the new Brownfield laws as well as our long-standing relationships and credibility with the key environmental agencies help us guide our clients toward the promised land of "no further action" and closure letters.
Environmental Insurance CoverageThe firm's environmental practice also gives rise to significant insurance coverage work. Over the past twenty years, we have been involved in a number of environmental coverage matters, successfully obtaining from our clients' insurance carriers payment of litigation defense costs, as well as securing for our clients indemnity contributions for hazardous waste remediation. We have had considerable success bringing diverse carriers "to the table" early on in an underlying contested matter, thereby obviating the need, where possible, of litigating insurance coverage disputes. When negotiations with carriers are not fruitful, however, we have successfully litigated coverage matters.
Regulatory ComplianceMembers of our group regularly appear before and interact with federal, state and local agencies on cleanup, compliance, permitting, variance and enforcement matters. Our regulatory work encompasses such diverse issues as negotiating cleanup standards, obtaining remediation approvals and securing waste management variances and recyclable material exemptions.
Property Transactions and Compliance AuditingGroup members have directed several environmental audits and rendered regulatory compliance advice in connection with real estate and business transactions and have worked extensively with environmental technical consulting firms in these areas. We regularly advise clients in the buying, selling, leasing and development of environmentally challenged properties.
Underground and Above-Ground StorageClients frequently consult our Department on compliance and litigation-related tank and storage matters. We have represented clients in underground storage tank matters in Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose, Stockton, Fresno and Visalia, California. We also assist and advise clients on successful applications and appeals concerning the State's Underground Storage Tank Cleanup Fund. We have secured recovery from the State Fund of several hundreds of thousands of dollars for our clients.
Disclosure and Reporting RequirementsMembers of the group advise clients on the full range of disclosure and reporting requirements under California and federal environmental schemes, including Proposition 65, asbestos notice provisions and employee "right to know" laws.
Professional Activities and Community InvolvementThe attorneys in our group have organized and been featured speakers at a variety of environmental seminars either sponsored by our law firm, the Los Angeles County Bar, the California State Bar, industry groups and professional organizations. The Department Chair, Gary A. Meyer, was an instructor in the UCLA Hazardous Materials Certificate Program from 1990 to 2001; is a frequent lecturer throughout California on numerous environmental law topics in programs sponsored by CLE International, the California Business Institute and Lorman Education Services; and has been a guest lecturer at UCLA School of Law, Southwestern Law School and USC’s Symposium on Environmental Law. Since 1985 our firm has sponsored its Annual Seminar on Hazardous Waste Management and the Law. At this annual event, now in its twenty-ninth year, Parker, Milliken provides California's multifaceted businesses with an opportunity to learn from top government and private section leaders about the latest environmental trends and policies. Members of our Department have also written and lectured extensively on environmental law and hazardous waste management issues.
Department Chair, Gary A. Meyer, is a contributing author to a recently published book by McGraw-Hill entitled Environmental Decision Making for Engineering and Business Managers. Mr. Meyer is past Chair of the Los Angeles County Bar's Environmental Law Section and has chaired that Section's Environmental Law Super Symposium, and was past Chair of the Beverly Hills Bar Environmental Law Section. Mr. Meyer also serves on the Executive Committee of the State Bar’s Environmental Law Section.