Below are representative examples of the Firm’s environmental and toxic tort litigation cases.
District of Maryland
G&E represented the City of Baltimore, and Baltimore County, in litigation against Monsanto Co. arising out of its production, marketing, distribution, and sale of carcinogenic industrial chemicals (polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs), resulting in environmental contamination as well as contamination of Baltimore’s and Baltimore County’s municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4) and other public water systems, including substantial impairment of the Inner Harbor and Lake Roland. Baltimore and Baltimore County asserted common-law environmental claims seeking both monetary damages for injury to its public resources and an abatement plan to be funded by Monsanto. Both Baltimore and Baltimore County elected to serve as class representatives in a proposed nationwide class action settlement on behalf of similar MS4 owners/operators. Monsanto has agreed to pay $550 million to the class.
Essex County Superior Court
G&E served as court-appointed Co-Lead counsel representing residents and businesses harmed by the catastrophic gas explosions in Merrimack Valley, Massachusetts, caused by the negligence of Columbia Gas and NiSource. In September 2018, a series of gas explosions and fires impacted as many as 80 homes and businesses, affected thousands of families, injured dozens of people, and killed one man. G&E asserted claims against Columbia Gas and NiSource, seeking compensation on behalf of residents that were injured in the explosion or have suffered property damage or other economic harm. The Firm achieved a settlement of $143 million in July 2019.
Superior Court of the District of Columbia Civil Division
G&E represented the Attorney General for the District of Columbia in litigation against Monsanto Co. arising out of its production, marketing, distribution, and sale of carcinogenic industrial chemicals (polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs), resulting in environmental contamination, including substantial impairment of major District of Columbia waterbodies. The District of Columbia asserted statutory and common-law environmental claims seeking cleanup costs and other damages for injury to natural resources. In 2020, a settlement for $52 million was reached.
First Judicial District Court, New Mexico
G&E represented the Attorney General for the State of New Mexico in litigation against Monsanto Co. arising out of its production, marketing, distribution, and sale of carcinogenic industrial chemicals (polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs), resulting in statewide environmental contamination, including substantial impairment of major New Mexico waterbodies. New Mexico asserted common-law environmental claims and a statutory claim for unfair trade practices seeking monetary damages for injury to its natural resources and other relief. In 2020, a settlement for $23.6 million, plus other non-monetary relief, was reached.
Sacramento County Superior Court
G&E represented residents and businesses harmed by the devastating November 2018 wildfire in Northern California, allegedly caused by the negligence of Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E). The fire was the deadliest and most devastating wildfire in California history, where 85 people died and more than 19,000 structures, including residences and commercial properties, were damaged or destroyed. G&E sought compensation on behalf of all victims that were injured or died in the fire or suffered property damage or other emotional distress, and in December 2019, settled the case for $13.5 billion.
Northern District of Ohio
G&E represents the Attorney General for the State of Ohio in litigation against a variety of chemical companies that manufactured and distributed aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), including toxic PFAS chemicals known as PFOA and PFOS. PFAS compounds are the root cause of a nationwide drinking water quality crisis. The primary manufacturers of PFAS-laced AFFF products include the 3M Company, Tyco Fire Products, Chemguard, Inc., Buckeye Fire Equipment, Kidde-Fenwal, Inc., and National Foam, Inc. Ohio asserts that these and other manufacturers, including PFAS manufacturers such as DuPont and Chemours, developed early knowledge of the toxicity and environmental hazards associated with the routine use of their products, which—when used in firefighting exercises—inevitably contaminate groundwater, seeping into public drinking water supplies and private wells. Ohio’s lawsuit has been consolidated in multidistrict litigation centralized in the District of South Carolina. Ohio asserts common-law environmental claims seeking both monetary damages for injury to its natural resources and abatement of the drinking water crisis.
Circuit Court of the Fifth Judicial Circuit, Marion County
G&E represents the City of Ocala in PFAS litigation concerning the use and disposal of AFFF products at a fire training facility, which resulted in high PFAS concentrations in drinking water wells and public water supplies. Ocala asserts common law and statutory claims under Florida law against the manufacturers of AFFF products, including the 3M Company, Tyco Fire Products, Chemguard, Inc., Buckeye Fire Equipment, Kidde-Fenwal, Inc., and National Foam, as well as PFAS manufacturers such as DuPont and Chemours, for causing this extensive contamination. Ocala’s AFFF litigation has been centralized in multi-district litigation proceedings in the District of South Carolina for pretrial purposes.
Court of Common Pleas, Hamilton County, Ohio
G&E represented the State of Ohio, in partnership with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, in a complex environmental action against Monsanto and affiliates relating to statewide contamination of natural resources with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Ohio alleged that Monsanto’s manufacture, marketing, sales, and use of its PCBs caused impairments of surface waterbodies, fish and wildlife, and other resources across the state, posing public health hazards. Ohio asserted under-utilized legal theories to support its case, including a standalone cause of action under the Ohio public trust doctrine. Monsanto’s defense rested principally on the Ohio Product Liability Act’s abrogation of common-law claims, including public nuisance and public trust claims. Ohio overcame Monsanto’s arguments, obtaining a ruling that its claims were not abrogated or otherwise barred. A core dispute concerning the scope of the Attorney General’s discovery obligations was extensively litigated at the trial court level, with the court adopting the AGO’s position. Monsanto appealed to the intermediate appellate court and the Ohio Supreme Court, but those courts declined to accept the appeals. The case was resolved during the discovery phase, in 2022. Ohio obtained $80,000,000 in the settlement.
Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania
G&E represents the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in litigation against Monsanto Co. arising out of its production, marketing, distribution, and sale of carcinogenic industrial chemicals (polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs), resulting in statewide environmental contamination, including substantial impairment of major Pennsylvania waterbodies. Pennsylvania asserts common-law environmental claims seeking both monetary damages for injury to its natural resources and an abatement plan to be funded by Monsanto.
New Jersey Superior Court, Camden County
G&E represents the State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, in partnership with the New Jersey Department of Law, in a lawsuit against the Sherwin-Williams Co. arising out of the company’s long-term abuse of ecosystems and natural resources in Gibbsboro/Voorhees, NJ at what was once the world’s largest paint factory. Since the 1850s, the facility had been used to manufacture paints, pigments, varnishes, and related products, and for the disposal of hazardous substances such as lead, arsenic, cadmium, benzene, and others. Consequently, surface waterbodies, groundwater, soils, fish and wildlife, and other natural resources in the region bear elevated levels of toxic heavy metals and other industrial compounds used and released by Sherwin-Williams, posing a risk to residents and the general public. G&E’s team prepared the lawsuit and argued the motion to dismiss over a two-day hearing.
District of New Mexico
G&E represents the State of New Mexico, in partnership with the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office, in a lawsuit against Sterigenics and affiliates relating to contamination of air with toxic ethylene oxide (EtO) in and around Dona Ana County. G&E, with the Attorney General’s Office, conducted pre-suit forensic investigations demonstrating strikingly elevated levels of EtO in the region surrounding Sterigenics’ sterilization facility in Santa Teresa, NM, including in residential areas downwind of the facility. The investigation also revealed that Sterigenics’ workers would routinely fail to take basic precautions to prevent uncontrolled air contamination, such as leaving shipping bay doors open for hours or days at a time, allowing EtO-rich air to escape the facility and pollute the atmosphere. The complaint sought a preliminary injunction prohibiting the uncontrolled emission of EtO, as well as abatement in the form of a public health monitoring program. After successfully overcoming the defendants’ effort to remove the case to federal court, G&E’s team briefed and argued the preliminary injunction motion, obtaining the injunction in June 2021—the first of its kind. The defendants’ motion to dismiss the case was subsequently denied in December 2021. The case is in discovery.
In this litigation surrounding the Volkswagen and Audi “clean diesel” emissions scandal, G&E helped reach an unprecedented settlement as part of the plaintiffs' steering committee.
On behalf of municipalities dealing with longstanding PCB contamination issues