Notable Representations, Key Contacts
Ever-changing domestic and international laws and regulations, as well as increased public scrutiny, have made environmental matters critical concerns for most business enterprises. Weil’s Environmental practice group addresses all areas that can affect companies’ day-to-day operations and strategic business plans with sophisticated and cost-effective representation. By working seamlessly with other Firm practice groups, our attorneys provide clients with the transactional, litigation, counseling, restructuring, and legislative services necessary to achieve their goals in a wide variety of business and legal contexts.
Our Environmental litigation practice covers a range of representations, including:
- Civil and administrative enforcement proceedings under Superfund and other federal and state environmental laws
- Permits and challenges to permit denials
- Personal injury, property damage, and nuisance claims brought in connection with the release of hazardous materials
- Criminal prosecutions under the environmental laws
Weil serves as lead trial counsel for Spanish energy company Repsol in litigation that involves allegedly billions of dollars of liabilities in connection with pollution of the Passaic River in New Jersey, which was dismissed in its entirety on summary judgement on the eve of trial. After a series of settlements between the parties and the state in 2013 and 2014, the Weil team achieved a number of victories. First, in a February 2015 order granting Repsol’s motion to dismiss, Weil eliminated nine of OCC’s eleven cross claims, leaving only OCC’s claims for recovery based on an alter ego theory of contract liability. Second, in a series of January 2016 recommendations from the Special Master granting Repsol’s motion for summary judgment and denying OCC’s summary judgment motion, Weil eliminated OCC’s remaining claims for recovery based on alter ego and retained its counterclaim under the New Jersey Spill Act against OCC for recovery of the $65 million Repsol paid in clean-up costs in its settlement with the state departments. Those recommendations were entered in toto by the New Jersey Superior Court after several days of oral argument in April 2016. The court agreed with our argument and interpretation of alter ego law, finding OCC could not, as it argued, pierce the veil directly to Repsol. Instead, under its theory of alter ego liability, which included claims against several entities in a multi-layered corporate chain, OCC was required by law to pierce the veil of each intervening corporate entity in that chain. Weil was successful in presenting a number of reasons why OCC could not meet this legal requirement, including OCC’s failure to link any domination by Repsol to its alleged harm, as well as the existence of a solvent entity that stood as an insurmountable barrier between Maxus and Repsol that was able to pay for any obligation allegedly owed to OCC, thereby eliminating any potential of harm or injustice. All claims against Repsol have been resolved, and the court allowed Repsol to pursue its counterclaim against OCC for recovery of the $65 million in clean-up costs it paid in settling with the New Jersey state departments, which was set for trial in June 2016. On the eve of trial, Maxus Energy Corp. filed for bankruptcy. In October 2017, the Superior Court of New Jersey adopted the recommendation of the Special Master and granted Respol’s motion for summary judgment to recover the $65 million from OCC, thereby bringing nearly a decade of litigation to a successful close.
- Weil counseled CBS (formerly Westinghouse Electric) in a long-running environmental litigation involving PCB-contaminated sites. Initially, we represented CBS in implementing a consent decree calling for the construction of an incinerator to burn materials and a landfill to dispose of waste. Ultimately, we negotiated a new, more cost-effective solution.
- Throughout the representation, Weil also defended CBS against numerous citizen lawsuits seeking to impose additional requirements or to challenge its permits and cleanup activities, and defeated a challenge contesting the remedial measures the company had negotiated with the federal, state, and local governments.
Weil secured for the Oneida Indian Nation one of the largest land-into-trust decisions granted by the Department of the Interior under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. A key component of our input related to circumventing likely administrative challenges to the environmental impact statement based on procedural or substantive error.
Named National Tier 1 Environmental Law Practice
U.S. News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” Survey 2021*
* Best Lawyers (in America) is by Levine Leichtman Capital Partners