Doffermyre, Shields, Canfield & Knowles LLC

Environmental Litigation

Environmental Litigation

Our lawyers have been in the forefront of environmental litigation for nearly three decades. We have successfully handled individual lawsuits, nationwide litigation, class actions, and mass tort cases arising from hazardous waste sites. Our environmental cases are closely related to the toxic tort cases that we also handle.

Much of our recent work has been in the area of “environmental justice” cases in which we represent residents of predominantly minority neighborhoods located close to major pollution sources. For example, we represented over 1500 African-American plaintiffs in a lawsuit against a chemical company in Anniston, Alabama for contaminating their neighborhood with PCBs. The plaintiffs’ claims for personal injuries and property damages were settled during the third week of trial.

Our firm’s environmental practice is headed by Bob Shields, who has been widely recognized for his expertise since the early 1980s when he served as lead counsel in one of the country’s first major environmental cases. The case was brought on behalf of the more than 1200 residents of Triana, Alabama, against a major chemical company for DDT and PCB pollution.  In a landmark settlement reached shortly before trial, the residents received a substantial monetary recovery, a trust fund was established to provide primary medical care and monitoring, and the defendant agreed to a consent order requiring clean up of the contamination.

Other cases illustrating our experience in environmental litigation follow:

  • We represented several thousand African-American residents of Jacksonville, Florida who lived near a municipal waste incinerator. Our lawsuit contended that the residents suffered IQ loss and property damage as a result of exposure to lead from the incinerator. The case against the municipal defendants was settled before trial.
  • A family was astonished to learn one day that their farm was located on top of an illegal hazardous waste site used by midnight dumpers during the 1970s. We filed claims against those who generated and transported the waste. The claims were settled.
  • Our firm, along with Kentucky co-counsel, represented a class of people living near a plastics manufacturing plant. We obtained reimbursement for their personal injuries and property damage resulting from exposure to styrene and a variety of other toxic chemicals discharged from the plant into the air and water.
  • Neighbors living near a battery recycling facility were injured by exposure to lead and other toxic chemicals discharged from the facility. They were reimbursed for their injuries due to a suit we filed on their behalf.
  • A small business was damaged as a result of contamination from leaking underground gasoline storage tanks on an adjacent property. Our client was compensated for the damage through a pre-trial settlement.

Environmental and toxic tort cases customarily are complex and difficult. To successfully handle these cases, lawyers must understand the applicable science, have access to the leading experts in the field, and have the staying power to finance what is almost invariably expensive litigation. Broad experience in previous cases is also essential.

We are accustomed to working with some of the world's leading scientists on the technical aspects of environmental injury and have experience with cases involving asbestos, benzene, chlordane, dioxins, dieldrin, diesel exhaust, Dursban, lead, PCBs, beryllium, styrene VOCs, and other chemicals. We have litigated cases on behalf of injured plaintiffs in cases involving the major federal regulatory statutes. We also have some familiarity with the regulatory process, one of our lawyers having served as an aide to the head of the United States Environmental Protection Agency.