Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell lawyers represent numerous companies that use and dispose of chemicals and other regulated substances in the production and distribution of their products. We routinely try lawsuits involving alleged breaches of environmental warranties, contamination liabilities and related insurance issues, toxic torts related to pharmaceuticals and asbestos, wrongful death, and personal injury. We also have extensive experience defending a variety of torts in class-action and multidistrict litigation.
As national trial counsel to General Electric, Pfizer, and other manufacturers, WTO lawyers are very familiar with the medical and causation issues associated with claims of current and historical toxic exposure. In defending environmental, product liability, and medical malpractice claims, we have developed a broad base of scientific and medical knowledge, a network of medical experts, and the ability to coordinate nationwide discovery, investigations, and evidence preservation related to mass claims.
WTO's clients often require legal assistance at the onset of a crisis in anticipation of tort and commercial claims. We are prepared to respond immediately to client emergencies to help avoid or mitigate legal liability. Our skills go beyond the defense of individual lawsuits to include pre-suit emergency response and crisis management; evidence preservation; early resolution of claims; coordination with related litigation (e.g., product liability and insurance actions); coordination with regulatory investigations; coordination with legislative investigations; coordination of nationwide discovery; electronic discovery operations; media relations; supervision of local counsel; retention of expert witnesses; factual investigation; settlement negotiations; class actions; and trials and appeals.
WTO lawyers know the complex federal and state statutes and regulations at the heart of environmental cases as well as the science associated with regulated substances. We understand the technical aspects of environmental law and have broad experience translating scientific and technical concepts to lay jurors, judges, and arbitrators.
Several WTO attorneys have formal education in the sciences, and many have in-depth knowledge acquired from consulting with independent technical and scientific experts. We are able to communicate with engineers, scientists and other outside experts and to develop persuasive briefs and evidentiary presentations in the areas that matter most to companies operating in the natural environment.
Below is a sample of representative environmental litigation cases WTO lawyers have handled.
- Handled a variety of toxic tort cases involving multiple claimants, including acting as lead trial counsel for the defense group in Colorado's Lowry Landfill Superfund litigation.
- Handled a fracking case filed in Denver District Court for a major oil and gas producer.
- Tried a six-week class-action jury trial in Denver District Court involving allegations of heavy metals contamination in the area surrounding client's cadmium refinery.
- Tried major groundwater contamination case in Colorado and New Mexico in which plaintiffs alleged that the client's gas production operations had contaminated their domestic water supplies.
- Tried to a defense verdict a groundwater contamination case brought by a Colorado town regarding claims that client had contaminated the municipal drinking water supply.
- Led underground storage tank litigation team that successfully tried one case to verdict and handled approximately 12 other cases.
- Defended a major oil and gas company against a toxic tort claim arising from leaking underground storage tanks.
- Handled arbitrations in cost-sharing disputes over environmental clean-up at gasoline refinery in Denver.
- Successfully represented a pesticide manufacturer in a toxic tort case brought in Nevada.
- Tried to verdict over 40 cases involving claims of personal injury and death from exposure to asbestos in jurisdictions across the country as national counsel to General Electric, Georgia Pacific, Foster Wheeler, and other manufacturers.
- Handle product liability cases involving complex issues of medical causation and the admissibility of medical experts' testimony as national trial counsel to major pharmaceutical manufacturers for several of their medications.
- Defended General Electric against 40 claims brought by NATO soldiers for cancer-causing exposure to ionizing radiation from missile systems used during the Cold War.
- Handle insurance coverage matters involving environmental-related property and casualty claims for major insurance carriers.
- Represented a geo-environmental consultant to a mining operation in a case of first impression under CERCLA. In the first federal appellate decision to address the issue, the Tenth Circuit held that the tort law collateral source rule is inapplicable in a contribution action under CERCLA. The holding precluded the plaintiff, the operator of the now-closed Summitville Colorado gold mine, from recovering millions of dollars from WTO's client for costs already paid by the insurance company for the clean-up of the plaintiff's mining operation. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected the mine operator's request to review the ruling.