Practice

Environmental Litigation

Forging winning environmental litigation strategies

Our environmental lawyers have built an impressive record resolving environmental disputes at the negotiating table, in administrative processes, in mediation and arbitration, and in the courtroom, while focusing on practical strategies that harmonize with our clients’ actual business objectives. Several of our cases have produced national precedents.

Foley Hoag’s environmental attorneys handle all aspects of environmental disputes, from pre-suit negotiations, to litigation and trial, to alternative forms of dispute resolution, such as mediation and arbitration. We represent clients in forums from adjudicatory proceedings before federal and state agencies to litigation in state and federal courts and international proceedings before global institutions such as the International Court of Justice in The Hague and International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes. While the range of our environmental cases is broad, in each case we work with our client to develop a strategy tailored to advance our clients’ strategic goals. 

We also counsel clients on how to avoid environmental litigation through comprehensive compliance and auditing programs.

We have been recognized since 2003 as a “Band 1” environmental law practice in Massachusetts in Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, and have been designated as a top practice every year, from 2003-2022. We also maintain the leading "Law and the Environment" blog, with regular updates on legislative, regulatory and judicial developments affecting environmental issues.

Areas of Focus

Our deep experience in environmental litigation includes:
  • Government and citizen suits involving
    • Clean Air Act
    • Clean Water Act
    • NEPA and state analogs
    • Endangered Species Act and state analogs
    • CERCLA and state analogs
    • Climate litigation addressing both mitigation and adaptation/resiliency issues
  • Private cost-recovery actions
  • Toxic tort claims
  • Environmental insurance coverage cases
  • International environmental disputes involving sovereign states
  • Disputes over the meaning of environmental provisions of transaction agreements, indemnities, and representations
  • Common law claims of negligence, nuisance, and trespass

Experience

  • We represented a large building products manufacturer in defense of claims brought by the Massachusetts Attorney General alleging violations of the Massachusetts Clean Air Act, as well as violations of the False Claims Act related to a government contract. We assisted the client in negotiating a settlement in which the Commonwealth dropped the False Claims Act allegations and the client agreed to make certain cost-effective upgrades to its facility, thus addressing the Clean Air Act allegations.
  • Foley Hoag represented Takeda, one of the largest biopharmaceutical employers in Massachusetts, in defending an enforcement action commenced by the Massachusetts Attorney General alleging that Takeda violated a number of provisions of the state Clean Air Act. The case involved complicated issues under state and federal Clean Air Act regulations, including the intersection of air regulations and FDA regulations governing pharmaceutical manufacturing. We negotiated a novel settlement in which Takeda identified process improvements that allowed it to reduce VOC usage while still complying with FDA requirements, thus avoiding the need to install costly emissions control equipment.
  • We represent a state agency in defense of claims that it should be responsible for contributing to the cost of a property cleanup at a former state hospital, which it sold so that the property could be redeveloped. The case raises important questions regarding the authority of such agencies to protect themselves against future liability through contractual provisions that run with the land, where such provisions are critical to the agency’s approach to redevelopment of the land.
  • We represent the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority with the litigation under the Clean Water Act involving the cleanup of Boston Harbor. Our attorneys have served as Special Assistant Attorneys General in this high-profile, high impact matter.
  • We represent the Republic of Ecuador in international arbitration before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague concerning oil contamination in the Amazon Basin.
  • We represent the owner of a large property in connection with claims relating to surface water and drinking water contamination with per- and poly-fluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS).  We negotiated the settlement of a citizen suit under the Clean Water Act and continue to assist with claims against the United States Army seeking cleanup and reimbursement.
  • We represented the City of South Portland, Maine, in its successful defense against a challenge by oil companies’ challenge to the City’s efforts to limit fossil fuel transportation in a pipeline between South Portland and Montreal, Canada. We prevailed at trial in federal court, in Maine’s highest court, and at the First Circuit Court of Appeals.  The case involved complex issues of Constitutional and environmental law.
  • We represent MPM Silicones LLC in its suit against Union Carbide Corporation for allocation of cleanup costs under CERCLA at a manufacturing site in West Virginia. After trial, the court awarded MPM 95% of its response costs, and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed.