Jonathan M. Ettinger


I help clients avoid and resolve disputes involving complex environmental claims and those seeking coverage from insurance companies.

Jonathan Ettinger has a dynamic and varied practice assisting clients in a broad range of issues involving environmental claims and insurance recovery claims. His work includes everything from clean water and superfund to regulatory challenges, from settlement and mediation to trials and international arbitration, and everything in between.

Jonathan represents clients seeking to resolve or avoid disputes involving complex environmental claims and clients seeking coverage from insurance companies. He has litigated or arbitrated claims under nearly every U.S. environmental law (and many state analogs) including Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, CERCLA, Endangered Species Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Toxic Substances Control Act, National Environmental Policy Act, and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. In addition to domestic litigation, he represents clients around the globe in international arbitrations involving environmental claims. In every case, he develops a strategy to maximize the client’s objective and, in so doing, always considers settlement opportunities, including mediation. Unlike many environmental lawyers, he actively tries cases in Court.

Jonathan’s practice is wide-ranging. He has:  
  • Represented clients seeking to recover, under federal and state Superfund statutes, the costs of remediating hazardous waste and also those from whom such costs are sought, either by private parties or governmental agencies.
  • Represented governmental agencies, such as the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, the Boston Water and Sewer Commission, and the Massachusetts Development Finance Authority, defending against claims that they are violating the Clean Water Act, due to sewage and/or stormwater discharges.
  • Represented a sovereign state in an international arbitration against a major oil company involving oil contamination in the Amazon Basin.
  • Defended against claims from so-called “emerging contaminants” such as Per- and Poly-fluorinated Alkyl Substances (“PFAS”).
  • Helped clients recover tens of millions of dollars from insurance companies that refused to pay. 
  • Successfully defended a city against a challenge to its regulation of an international oil pipeline.
  • Counseled clients on hazardous waste remediation nationwide, including resolution of disputes involving more than a dozen sites through the use of professional mediators and judges in Alternative Dispute Resolution proceedings. 
In addition to environmental and insurance recovery claims, Jonathan has also litigated cases involving breach of international bilateral investment treaties, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duties, breach of covenants not to compete, legal malpractice, breach of warranty, negligence, fraud, unfair or deceptive trade practices.


  • Northeastern University School of Law, J.D., 1988
  • Dartmouth College, A.B. in Chemistry (with Environmental Studies Certificate), 1982

Bar and Court Admissions

  • Massachusetts
  • Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin

Experience Overview

  • Serves as a Special Assistant Attorney General representing the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority in connection with the litigation involving cleanup of Boston Harbor, a decades-long case, and in a recent action brought by the Conversation Law Foundation concerning the MWRA’s Industrial Pretreatment Program.
  • Represents the Boston Water and Sewer Commission in connection with litigation, and now Consent Decree compliance, relating to alleged Clean Water Act violations for discharges to Boston Harbor and the Charles River.
  • Represented the Massachusetts Development Finance Agency in defense of an action by Conservation Law Foundation relating to stormwater discharges (including PFAS) at the former Fort Devens. The case was resolved by settlement after mediation.
  • Represented the City of South Portland, Maine, in a suit brought by oil companies and a pipeline operator seeking to invalidate regulations the City promulgated to reduce the flow of oil from Montreal, Canada to South Portland. Prevailed at trial. See Portland Pipe Line Corp. v. City of South Portland, 332 F. Supp. 3d 264 (D. Maine 2018).  The appeal to the First Circuit Court of Appeals was subsequently dismissed. 
  • Represents the Republic of Ecuador in an international arbitration against Chevron Corporation involving oil contamination in the Amazon Basin.
  • Represents the Republic of Albania in an international arbitration involving the construction of a wastewater treatment facility in the capital city of Tirana.
  • Represents Ukraine in an international arbitration concerning the construction of a roadway.
  • Represents MPM Silicones LLC in its suit against Union Carbide Corporation for allocation of cleanup costs at a manufacturing site. After trial, the court awarded MPM 95% of its remedial response costs. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed. MPM Silicones LLC v. Union Carbide Corporation, 966 F.3d 200 (2d Cir. 2020).
  • Represented ConocoPhillips Company, Phillips 66 Company, and Conoco Oil Company, in a dispute over the allocation of remediation costs for a large petroleum facility.
  • Represents an electronics component manufacturer in connection with the investigation and remediation of environmental contamination (volatile organic compounds and polychlorinated biphenyls) at a former manufacturing site in Venice, California. Currently overseeing the implementation of the remedial action under a Consent Decree negotiated with the government and private party claimants.
  • Represented a computer manufacturer in a claim, ultimately settled through mediation, for contribution for environmental cleanup costs resulting from disposal of scrap containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
  • Represented a public authority in litigation, ultimately settled through mediation, against several major oil companies in a contribution claim over environmental contamination at numerous service stations.
  • Worked on numerous state and federal Superfund sites around the country, including the Charles George Landfill (MA), Bennington Landfill (VT), Blackburn & Union Privileges Site (MA), Boliden Metech Site (RI), Shaffer Landfill (MA), Former CBS/Playskool Site (PA), Yakima Railway Site (WA), Norwood PCB Superfund Site (MA), Lemberger Landfill and Transport & Recycling Sites (WI), Peterborough Landfill (NH), the Somersworth Landfill (NH), the Beede Waste Oil Site (NH), and the H&M Drum Sites (MA), Cornell-Dubilier Electronics Superfund Site (NJ); Woodbrook Road Superfund Site (NJ)
  • Oversees the implementation of, and compliance with, Consent Decrees negotiated with Federal and State agencies 
  • Represented an electronics component manufacturer in litigation against numerous insurers arising from environmental contamination of over seventeen separate sites located in over seven separate states. Through those claims, we obtained summary judgment requiring various insurers to pay our client's defense costs and prevailed at trial on both indemnification and defense obligations. We have also obtained settlements through which our client has been reimbursed tens of millions of dollars it has incurred in addressing its potential environmental liabilities.
  • Represented a major utility company in litigation seeking to recover from its insurers millions of dollars in environmental remediation costs. Case settled after mediation.
  • Represents a manufacturing company in coverage arbitration with international insurers over environmental cleanup costs associated with a former manufacturing facility.
  • Represented the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority in its successful trial against the United States involving Safe Drinking Water Act claims that the water supply for eastern Massachusetts should be filtered. See United States v. Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, 97 F.Supp.2d 155 (D. Mass. 2000), affirmed 256 F. 3d 36 (2001).
  • Represented the City of Portland, Oregon in a challenge to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Long-Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule in the United States Appeals Court for the District of Columbia.
  • Represented the Buzzards Bay Coalition in a suit brought by the United States to invalidate the Massachusetts Oil Spill Prevention Act. We prevailed twice at United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. See U.S. v. Massachusetts, 493 F.3d. 1 (1st Cir. 2007), 644 F.3d 26 (1st Cir. 2011).

Honors & Involvement Overview

  • Named BEST LAWYERS’ Boston Litigation-Environmental Lawyer of the Year (2017); Boston Environmental Law (2023)
  • Buzzards Bay Guardian Award (2011)
  • American Bar Association (Environment, Energy and Resources, Litigation, and Tort Trial and Insurance Practice sections)
  • Massachusetts Bar Association
  • Boston Bar Association, Co-chair Environmental Law Section (2010-2012), Co-chair Environmental Litigation Committee (2008-2010), Sustainability Task Force (2011-2012)
  • Boston Bar Journal, Board of Editors (2000-2003)
  • Ten Webster Avenue Corporation (Hanover, NH), Director and President

Speaking Engagements Overview

  • Panelist, “How to Present Environmental Data at Trial,” Trying Environmental and Land Use Cases, CLE presented by the Environmental Law Section of the BBA, November 2014