Knowing your industry
Wyatt's Environmental Law Practice is a team of over 20 lawyers, many of whom have helped clients for more than 30 years meet challenges and seize opportunities created by the incredible expansion of environmental law that has occurred over this same period.
Several members of the team began careers with environmental agencies and helped fashion laws and policies that protect human health and the natural environment. They continue to influence developments in this area today. Collectively, this team has experience with every area of environmental law, and its members include a former Senior Environmental Counsel for General Electric Company's Consumer & Industrial business. Regular participation in bar and trade association activities keeps the team on the cutting edge of new developments, and able to effectively convey client perspectives in legislative and rulemaking proceedings. Their breadth and depth of experience enables the Firm to provide clients with practical and creative solutions to their problems.
Having respected reputations with environmental regulators, this team effectively communicates client perspectives to appropriate government decision makers and often resolves matters by settlement. Partnering with the superior litigation team in this Firm, some of whom are members of the environmental team and focus almost entirely on environmental disputes, we are extremely effective in administrative hearings and judicial proceedings when that is required to obtain results or to defeat unmerited claims. Furthermore, with offices located in major cities in Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, and Mississippi we are well positioned to handle matters throughout the region without the cost of additional local counsel.
In today's environmentally conscious society, virtually every industry is faced with significant obligations imposed by environmental laws. The frequency at which new laws are enacted and regulations are changed poses significant challenges to maintaining compliance. At the same time businesses cannot afford to ignore the consequences of non-compliance. Increased criminal enforcement and demands for increasingly larger civil penalties have forced businesses to make environmental compliance a core competence. Our Regulatory Compliance Practice can assist with all facets of federal, state and local environmental compliance.
We also help clients build and maintain environmental management systems that are effective for maintaining compliance and minimizing criminal liability risks. We vigorously defend clients faced with criminal prosecution, onerous penalties or excessive corrective measures in enforcement proceedings, and frequently obtain reasonable settlement terms. We help clients maximize operational flexibility by helping them spot overly restrictive or unlawful terms in their environmental permits, and defend permits from attack. We help clients assess the impact of statutes and regulations while they are being formulated, when they are more easily changed, and advocate for change directly and through trade associations. We also assess the impact of environmental laws and regulations on new business opportunities and structure ventures to minimize burdens and take advantage of opportunities created by environmental laws. The Firm has a large Mineral & Energy Practice that covers compliance with environmental and worker safety laws specific to mining operations.
Spill Response and Cleanup
The Firm routinely represents clients faced with obligations to address property contamination imposed by Superfund, RCRA Corrective Action, and state counterparts to these federal programs. Whether dealing with a multi-party site with allocation, participation or technical challenges, or a site where our client shoulders the entire cleanup burden, whether representing a large or small contributor, we have extensive experience at minimizing our clients' costs and obtaining lasting resolutions. The team stays abreast of developments in the science of risk assessment and state voluntary cleanup programs, both of which increasingly impact cleanup liability. The team also stays abreast of opportunities for, and challenges to, recovering cleanup costs from UST funds and other responsible parties, and helps clients plan their response to maximize recovery opportunities and avoid pitfalls.
Toxic Tort Defense
The Firm has significant experience defending against claims for personal injury or property damage from environmental exposure to hazardous substances, and in other mass tort actions in the area of products liability and premises liability. We have succeeded in defeating inappropriate attempts to seek class certification, and in excluding testimony from junk science experts. We stay abreast of judicial decisions and legislation impacting theories of liability and of accepted scientific conclusions. We have also enjoyed tremendous success at correcting on appeal errors by trial court judges.
Business and Real Estate Transactions
The Firm routinely helps clients assess and manage environmental liabilities in business and real estate transactions. This includes managing due diligence investigations appropriate for the timing of a transaction and the risk tolerance of our client, and then structuring the transaction to clearly allocate liability risks and minimize those risks for our client. This includes counseling clients on the availability of and how to qualify for liability exceptions recently enacted to promote reuse of Brownfield properties, and how to use voluntary cleanup programs and prospective purchaser agreements to establish greater certainty about the cost of addressing known property contamination.