Environmental

Our attorneys at Ruberry, Stalmack & Garvey, LLC (RSG) have been involved in environmental counseling and litigation since the dawn of the modern environmental law era in the early 1970s.  Indeed, we have among our partners some of the original employees of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, both in its Chicago Region V office as well as at EPA Headquarters in Washington D.C. As such, our attorneys have appeared frequently before the U.S. EPA, in informal negotiations over remedial projects or rule-making and in administrative litigation before EPA Judicial Officers and its Board of Hearings and Appeals.

Senior partner Richard Kuntz, has represented clients before state-level environmental agencies and bodies including the Illinois Pollution Control Board, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources. He also served as a Special Assistant State's Attorney to prosecute a claim by a County government to recover the costs associated with the leaching of lead from a courthouse roof, and defending the County against the state EPA.

As you may know, with the maturation of environmental regulation, more matters have been resolved at the state level in recent years. But when the size or scope of a matter necessitates U.S. EPA involvement, we are prepared to defend enforcement actions in U.S. District Court, or appeal adverse rule makings directly to the U.S. Courts of Appeal. We have also challenged ultra vires agency action on behalf of affected clients when necessary in ancillary proceedings, such as to quash a warrantless search or improperly impaneled Grand Jury. So when insurance coverage disputes first arose from the application of the new environmental statutes and regulations, it was a natural progression for our firm to blend the talents of our attorneys with complex insurance coverage expertise, with those whose background was formed in the environmental law battles.

Among our 30 plus attorneys are those whose environmental practice can be characterized in one of three ways: the representation of insurance carriers in complex coverage disputes involving all lines in which environmental claims are implicated; the defense of insureds on appointment from carriers when the duty to defend has been assumed; and the direct representation of commercial and  industrial clients when coverage is not an issue. Indeed, several of such clients have come to us directly when insurance was not an issue, and later requested our representation in other matters where an insurer has agreed to defend.

With respect to environmental coverage, RSG has handled claims and coverage litigation arising out of property damage, bodily injury and Personal Injury (the latter asserted in nuisance/trespass claims to avoid the pollution exclusion), under GL, umbrella, excess, EPL/EIL, commercial auto, garage, contractors, inland marine, cargo legal liability, professional  liability, and reinsurance facultative certificates and treaties. Whether the cases involve trigger and allocation issues for multiple sites under numerous CGL policies, or claims for coverage under various types of claims-made or first-party policies, our attorneys have litigated almost every issue raised by such claims, in many jurisdictions and in state and Federal Courts of Appeal.

Among the cases we have tried is Hercules Chemical Company v. Underwriters at Lloyds, London, et al., Superior Court of New Castle County, Delaware. This environmental coverage trial, which lasted 16 weeks, involved claims of over $200 million with respect to environmental contamination left from production of Agent Orange. Our attorneys acted as lead counsel for a group of carriers with a sudden and accidental pollution exclusion, and after conducting the key expert examinations and cross-examinations and making closing arguments, our clients prevailed before a jury, a verdict sustained by the Delaware Supreme Court.

Most recently, we successfully resolved a large multi-party case involving perchloroethylene groundwater contamination resulting from dry-cleaning operations. We have handled numerous claims and coverage disputes arising from underground storage tanks containing petroleum as well as larger tank farms operated by chemical manufactures; as part of the petroleum tank claims we have successfully brought subrogation claims against State UST reimbursement funds, which provide another source of recovery for petroleum claims in most states, as well as a few states such as North Carolina which provide for dry cleaning operations as well. We are currently representing an insurer in a multi-million dollar case in California involving numerous perc releases from dry-cleaning operations, where issues of contractual indemnity and coverage thereof under Vendors Endorsements are also at issue.

 

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Ruberry, Stalmack & Garvey, LLC is one of Chicago's most accomplished law firms. Our success is due to the outstanding talents of our attorneys, as well as our commitment to providing exceptional legal services for our clients.