Contaminated Properties & Waste

Latham & Watkins helps potentially responsible parties limit liability for contaminated sites through negotiations with agencies and private parties, litigation, and counseling throughout the investigation and remediation process.

Providing a Comprehensive View

Latham Contaminated Property Practice lawyers work on matters related to legacy contamination around the globe. Latham helps clients reduce liability for contaminated sites, pursue contribution from other potentially responsible parties, limit the costs of remediation, and defend against natural resource damage claims that can reach into the billions of dollars.

From the first notification of a potential regulatory issue, Latham guides clients through the full spectrum of related issues that frequently arise, including negotiations with other potentially responsible parties and state and federal agencies, follow-on regulatory actions, enforcement defense litigation, contribution and cost recovery actions, toxic tort issues, insurance litigation and counseling to recover costs of defense and remediation.

Understanding the Landscape

Whether contamination occurs in soil, groundwater, or sediment, Latham can draw on decades of experience representing clients in nearly every state in the US (including strictly regulated California and Nevada), Europe, and parts of Asia and Africa. Lawyers in the practice draw on significant technical knowledge, intimate understanding of the relevant and overlapping regulations of multiple jurisdictions, and complementary market-leading experience in the courtroom and around the negotiating table.

The Latham team can draw on the experience of several former government regulators and strong working relationships with all the key agencies to assist clients with:

  • Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and state analogues
  • Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)

  • California Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act

  • California's Proposition 65 reporting

  • Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) reporting

  • Environmental Justice Counseling and Compliance

  • Federal and state rulemaking

Leading in the Field

As part of one of the largest environmental practices in the world, lawyers in the Contaminated Property Practice have encountered some of the most complex and highest-stakes contamination matters. When navigating new issues for clients, Latham can draw on groundbreaking experience, including:

  • Recovering US$70 million from other responsible parties in a bench trial for an allocation case.
  • Litigating and winning the first two natural resource damage trials in New Jersey. Latham secured judgments that enabled clients to avoid significant alleged damages.
  • Representing a chemical manufacturer in state and federal cost recovery actions and natural resource damages negotiations. The client, originally facing more than US$1 billion in damages, settled for US$73 million. 
  • Advising clients on massive sediment cleanups in California, Oregon, New Jersey, and other areas. In one California matter, Latham negotiated a settlement for a revised cleanup at less than 90% of the government’s originally-issued cleanup order, and secured insurance coverage for remediation costs.
  • Winning a directed verdict holding the State of California 100% liable for remediation of a hazardous waste landfill.
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