Weitz & Luxenberg is proud to announce our Environmental, Toxic Tort & Consumer Protection group has been named a 2022 Environmental Group of the Year by Law360.
The organization praised us for our efforts in helping to secure a $626 million settlement for victims of the Flint, Michigan, water crisis. They also commended our team for working to achieve settlements for communities across the country where the water was contaminated by toxic chemicals such as PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances).
“It is a privilege to receive this honor from Law360,” says James Bilsborrow, a W&L partner and co-chair of our environmental litigation team. “To be recognized for our efforts is incredibly gratifying.”
He continues, “To successfully fight to help people across the country harmed by the actions and inactions of environmental offenders is affirming. I’m proud to be part of this effort. At Weitz & Luxenberg, we will continue to fight for safe living and working environments for all Americans until corporations step up, take responsibility, and choose to make right choices.”
“This recognition belongs equally to the people we have had the privilege to represent in these and other cases. Corporations all too often put profits over public health, and our clients are the innocent victims of these wrongs. We are proud to be the proxy for those who have been harmed as a result of environmental abuses,” says Robin Greenwald, W&L partner and co-chair of the unit that she formed over 15 years ago.
Much of our team’s recent work was acknowledged. This included a number of hard-fought legal cases, with successful results. Our legal strategies were devised to help our clients get the justice they deserve.
Flint Michigan Water Crisis Lawsuit
W&L’s Paul Novak, John Broaddus, and Gregory Stamatopoulos worked alongside a team of attorneys to help secure the $626 million agreement for Flint residents and businesses. Everyone in the City of Flint was exposed to lead-contaminated water after officials changed the city’s drinking water source.
We actually opened our office in Michigan so we could expand our fight on the ground in this area. We needed direct access to the victims in Flint and to the local community agencies and volunteer groups working to assist people during Flint’s water emergency. Thousands of residents and businesses were affected.
We joined others in filing a lawsuit against the State of Michigan in early 2016. Our attorneys questioned the conduct of then-governor Rick Snyder; the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality; and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. All had played a part in deciding to use the exceedingly polluted Flint River in 2014 as a drinking water source.
Litigation on behalf of the people in Flint continues against the Veolia and LAN Defendants, two environmental engineering companies who were involved in water consulting work in Flint.
PFOA Contamination New York State
W&L’s environmental team members also achieve successful settlements for two communities in New York state. Both were in response to water contamination and included medical monitoring as a condition of the settlements.
Petersburgh, New York
Our environmental team helped achieve a $23.5 million settlement with a defendant responsible for contaminating the water of residents of Petersburgh, New York. The contaminant was a PFAS known as PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid).
For years, the people in Petersburgh were drinking PFOA-contaminated water without knowing their water was poisoning them. The settlement compensates residents of the town, as well as businesses and property owners, for the harm they suffered due to exposure to this “forever chemical” in their water.
Hoosick Falls, New York
Attorneys from W&L also co-led a team securing a $65.25 million settlement for Hoosick Falls residents and businesses whose drinking water supply was contaminated by PFOA. More than 2,300 claims were filed. Multiple defendants were named.
Natural Gas Blowout in California
W&L’s attorneys Devin Bolton and Robin Greenwald as Executive Committee members, and a team of like-minded firms, helped secure a global settlement of $1.8 billion on behalf of people harmed by a massive gas leak discovered at the Standard Sesnon 25 well in Porter Ranch, Aliso Canyon, California. People living in the region reported strong odors and experienced significant physical symptoms.
Two schools had to be moved. Nearly 8,000 households were forced to relocate to temporary housing, often nowhere near their homes and jobs. The blowout went on for 118 days. Roughly 100,000 metric tons of toxic chemicals were leached into the surrounding area.
Our Environmental Team Works Hard for Clients
Weitz & Luxenberg is fortunate to have such a dedicated team of environmental litigators, including:
Robin L. Greenwald
Ms. Greenwald is a W&L partner and practice group co-chair. Formerly, she served as Assistant United States Attorney and Assistant Chief of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Environmental Crimes Section. She joined W&L in 2005. She has since led her team to several significant triumphs, including a multibillion dollar settlement with Monsanto over exposure to the weed killer Roundup for clients diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. Other successful cases include the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and another against petroleum companies for contaminating the country’s groundwater with a gasoline additive, MTBE (methyl tertiary butyl ether).
Mr. Bilsborrow is a W&L partner and practice group co-chair. He represents victims of environmental contamination and toxic exposure nationwide. Mr. Bilsborrow plays a key role in many of the firm’s initiatives seeking just compensation on behalf of property owners and individuals exposed to PFOA and PFOS, both highly toxic chemicals. In addition to our PFOA water contamination litigations in New York state, he was key our litigation against BP following the 2010 major oil spill.
Before joining Weitz & Luxenberg, Mr. Novak had already distinguished himself, particularly when it comes to prosecuting complex civil cases against corporate offenders. We are fortunate this former Michigan Assistant Attorney General agreed to serve as managing attorney for our firm’s Detroit office. Mr. Novak continues to fight against irresponsible corporate behavior, particularly in his home state of Michigan. This includes litigation against manufacturers polluting the groundwater in Kent County and exposing residents to high levels of toxic contaminants in their drinking water.
Since joining W&L, Mr. Stamatopoulos has represented plaintiffs in multiple complex class action suits. He played a key role in helping Flint, Michigan, residents and businesses attain a just resolution for the harm they suffered from exposure to lead-contaminated water. He has also litigated cases in both federal and state courts and represented plaintiffs harmed in health care settings and the pharmaceutical industry.
As a member of the W&L environmental team, Ms. Bolton successfully represented thousands of residents injured by the 2015 Aliso Canyon gas leak. It was the largest U.S. release of greenhouse gases in history. In her role as a litigator, she investigates cases of air, soil, and water contamination across the country. Her prior experience includes consumer protection and employee rights cases, as well as product liability litigation.