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Heyl Royster

 

Practices

ENVIRONMENTAL LAW

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Environmental regulation has created a legal minefield. One misstep may have drastic consequences – now or in the future – and environmental violations do not necessarily require intent or even negligence for a party to recover. For example, a landowner may be liable for the clean-up of pollution from a leaking underground storage tank that was installed long ago. A retailer may have liability for the remediation of a landfill where it sent its garbage many years ago. A farmer may have to contend with neighbors who no longer appreciate the country air that prompted them to move to a rural area.

Our attorneys have a range of experience from both the private and public sectors addressing land, air, and water rights and liabilities. We have represented a wide range of clients in complex environmental litigation, counseling, and regulatory compliance, including Fortune 500 companies (both as in-house and outside counsel), governmental entities, refineries, pipelines, landfill operators, general contractors, engineering firms, trucking companies, steel mills, mom and pop businesses and individuals.

Our attorney's experience encompasses:

  • Permitting and regulatory compliance
  • EPA and IEPA enforcement actions
  • Environmental due diligence
  • Insurance coverage issues
  • Real estate transactions
  • Cost recovery actions
  • Land, air and water litigation

Environmental problems often overlap with other legal issues, such as corporate transactions or property transfers, and the problem as a whole may be greater than the sum of its individual parts. This is where the breadth of our practice can be a real advantage. Specifically, our attorneys have worked on matters involving:

  • Clean Air and Water Acts
  • CERCLA and RCRA
  • Brownfields and Superfunds sites
  • Endangered Species Act
  • Mold
  • Asbestos
  • Radiation and exposure
  • Mine subsidence

In addition, for many decades, Heyl Royster has defended businesses in personal injury and property damage actions, including cases involving benzene, BTEX compounds, vinyl chloride, nickel/chrome, diacetyl, asbestos, welding rod exposures, coal exposure, and silica. In the public sector, our attorneys have negotiated Highway Authority Agreements and defended claims before the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. We have negotiated Compliance Commitment Agreements and obtained No Further Remediation letters, and worked with the U.S. and Illinois E.P.A. on multiple aspects of property redevelopment.

We can effectively and efficiently assist with construction projects, business-related buy/sell agreements, contract disputes, product liability, environmental lawsuits, and personal injury defense. In terms of administrative, trial, and appellate proceedings, we provide clients with a realistic plan and budget, just as we do in other areas of complex litigation. With six offices located throughout Illinois, we can respond quickly and coordinate our efforts for cost-effective results.

Our attorneys' experience includes:

  • Defense of a Fortune 500 industrial gasses company in the largest multiple-site CERCLA litigation in southern Illinois.
  • Representation of a gas refinery alleged by several hundred residents to have contaminated air and ground water.
  • Defeated challenge by plaintiff to halt construction of a new water supply for a municipality because of alleged presence of two animals listed on the Illinois Endangered Species Act. In Glisson v. City of Marion, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that plaintiff did not have standing to pursue the action.
  • Representation of refiners in multi-district litigation alleging damage to water supplies involving the gasoline additive MTBE. Representation included cases filed throughout the country and consolidated in the Southern District of New York.
  • Representation of an international utility contractor in a case involving approximately $14 million in consent decree response costs incurred in cleaning up an oil pipeline spill.
  • Defense of a municipality in response to violation notices before the Illinois E.P.A. involving water and wastewater (storm and sanitary) and alleged violations of NPDES permits.
  • Defense of an aggregate company (salt, Magnesium Oxide, PetCoke) in an enforcement action by the IEPA which alleges air and water contamination as a result of the discharge of salt, PetCoke, MagOx etc.).
  • Defense of a trucking and materials company in a contempt action that became an enforcement action alleging air and water contamination as a result of the discharge of salt.
  • Defense of a wastewater treatment operator before the Illinois Pollution Control Board.
  • Representation of a company that produced and sold alternate fuel in a successful appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court, which rejected the Illinois E.P.A.'s position and held for our client that recyclable plastic used to manufacture fuel was not "waste" and therefore the company was not required to comply with permit procedures for waste storage and disposal set forth in the Environmental Protection Act. (see Alternate Fuels, Inc. v. Director of Illinois E.P.A. 337 Ill. App. 3d 857 (5th Dist. 2003), affm'd, 215 Ill. 2d 219 (2004))
  • Persuaded 7th Circuit to uphold summary judgment for seller of industrial park alleged to be liable under CERCLA and RCRA for asbestos in the buildings. The case involved the issue of whether asbestos left in a building which was sold to the plaintiff constituted "waste" within the meaning of those statutes.
  • Persuaded Illinois Appellate Court to affirm trial court's summary judgment dismissing claim against engineering firm which had designed storm water retention system, as being untimely under Illinois Construction Statute of Limitations.
  • Represented general contractor in a highly publicized "sick building" case involving a county courthouse, with a defense verdict following a month long jury trial, which was affirmed on appeal.
  • Obtained summary judgment for insured for underground pollution of well water despite absolute pollution exclusion by arguing that that exclusion was not part of the personal injury or advertising coverage of the insured's policy.