Environmental Litigation

Though environmental law can be heavily focused on compliance with governmental regulations and federal statutes, there are numerous instances when it becomes the center of a litigation matter - particularly when ownership of real property has been transferred. In that instance, central issues in the case include determining (i) whether environmental issues exist, (ii) who is to bear the financial responsibility to remediate the problem, (iii) when and how the environmental issues will be cured, and (iv) whether future protection or indemnification will be provided. Additionally, the drafting of purchase and sale agreements that properly address these issues help prevent future unnecessary litigation by making the responsibilities of each party clear and ferreting out all potential risks of the transaction.

Pollution prevention programs and chemical regulatory programs by the federal and state governments may affect real property transactions because they frequently give rise to substantial liabilities for prior activities conducted in violation of the requirements. The defenses to liability available in actions brought by the government are technical, limited, and often fact specific.

It is imperative that buyers and sellers engage in an in-depth due diligence process by which they obtain information on the environmental condition of the property and inform themselves on whether the property is environmentally sound or presents a risk of future liability. If conducted properly, this due diligence process can convey "innocent landowner" status or bona fide purchaser status, which can then serve as a defense to environmental actions if "all appropriate inquiry" has taken place.

Snow Spence Green LLP has successfully defended clients against potential environmental liability. The Firm has also successfully prosecuted claims for indemnity and declaratory judgment actions holding other parties liable for environmental matters facing Firm clients.