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Practice Areas


Expertise in Environmental Law

Environmental Law is surrounded by complex laws, regulations, and administrative procedures. Burnham Brown's Environmental Law Practice Group provides comprehensive environmental legal services throughout the state of California. Our attorneys are experienced in all aspects of environmental law, including private cost recovery actions, government enforcement proceedings, regulatory compliance, and litigation. Although we work regularly with government enforcement agencies to resolve disputes before litigation commences, we are also well versed in defending our clients in the courtroom. We also counsel clients in contract negotiation, business transactions, and real estate transactions concerning environmental laws and policies.

Areas of Expertise

Environmental Litigation

  • Private cost recovery actions, CERCLA, RCRA, and citizen suits
  • Proposition 65 claims and warning requirements
  • Hazardous waste regulation, including transportation and disposal
  • Experience with state-of-the-art environmental assessment technologies for remediation of air, soil, and groundwater contamination
  • Familiarity with environmental clean-up and exposure claims involving chromium 6, benzene, creosote, formaldehyde, solvents and other environmental exposures
  • Negotiation and coordination of consultants, contractors, and government agencies regarding investigation and remediation of contaminated sites

Asbestos Litigation

  • Experience with more than 5,000 bodily injury cases arising from alleged asbestos exposure
  • Defense of manufacturers and users of asbestos-containing products
  • Thorough knowledge of unique procedural requirements associated with asbestos cases throughout Northern California
  • Comprehensive and automated litigation management
  • Significant medical and epidemiologic expertise in complex cases involving malignancies, interstitial fibrosis versus other lung diseases, causation, fiber types and life expectancy issues

Toxic Tort Litigation

  • Full range of environmental tort claims, including solvents, petroleum based pesticides chemicals and biologies
  • Class actions arising from alleged exposure to hazardous substances
  • All aspects of toxic tort law, including recurring issues of causation, worker safety, and federal preemption including facility in the related scientific fields of epidemiology, toxicology and industrial hygiene

Silica Litigation

  • Unique medical and epidemiological expertise handling complex actions involving pulmonary fibrosis, malignancies and cardiovascular complications
  • Sophisticated understanding of mixed dust allegations in building alternative causation defenses
  • Advise and Counsel to limit further liability based on extensive understanding of regulatory requirements
  • Extensive experience managing Northern California Complex Litigation

Real Estate and Business Transactions

  • Environmental investigations, transaction due diligence, disclosure statements
  • Lender liability, risk management audits, and inspections
  • Contract preparation, including leases, agreements, and variances

Environmental Regulatory Compliance

  • Hazardous waste, wetlands, water, and air quality regulation
  • Permit procedures and applications
  • Underground storage tank compliance procedures
  • Underground storage tank clean up fund

Environmental attorneys are experienced with a wide variety of industries that have unique environmental issues, including agricultural, petrochemical, refining, mining, energy, chemical, metals, automotive, dry cleaning, retail, oil and gas, railroad, and waste disposal. We also recognize that a company does not need to be in the environmental business to have environmental legal issues. We regularly counsel government entities, schools, manufacturers and property owners regarding all types of environmental matters, including risk management and environmental liability insurance. Burnham Brown attorneys have handled thousands of environmental cases, and we currently represent both small, family-owned businesses and large Fortune 500 companies regarding regional and national risks.

Representative Engagements in Environmental Law


  • Obtained verdict affirming a bulk fuel facility formerly operated by client was environmentally suitable for development. Channel Lumber Co., Inc. v. Chevron Corp., Shell Oil Company, et al.
  • Directed verdict grant after six month trial.  30 plaintiffs claimed bodily injury arising from exposure to mold and legionnaires bacteria.
  • Non-suit granted regarding Plaintiff's construction defect claim.  Masada v. Almaden Ventures LLC.  Plaintiff claimed bodily injury secondary to exposure to secondhand smoke. Plaintiff's science and medical experts excluded in evidence code Section 402 hearings.
  • Burnham Brown represented an Enviornmental Engineering firm in Federal litigation regarding allegations of negligence and fraud in conjunction with a state wide trash sorting project.
  • Burnham Brown represented a group of dry-cleaning operators in Federal cost recovery litigation related to soil and groundwater contamination and remediation.
  • Arranged settlement in excess of client's out-of-pocket remedial costs to clean up 1,500 gallons of gasoline spilled in collision of Shell tanker truck and several other drivers. Shell Oil Company v. Bobba, et al.
  • Secured favorable settlement of claims by 23 homeowners against insured grading contractor; environmental claims arose from plaintiffs' homes being constructed on the site of a former bulk distribution facility. Hurst, et al. v. California Homes, Inc., et al.

Advice and Counsel

  • Negotiated sale of real properties with contaminated soil and groundwater to both public agency and private buyers with sales closing during ongoing remedial activities
  • Negotiated agreement for owner of contaminated real property making last tenant primarily responsible for cleanup
  • Represented landowners and tenants, including oil company and dry dock operator, in responding to regulatory compliance issues, administrative orders, oversight charges, and notices of violation in administrative hearings with the United States Environmental Protection Agency, California Department of Toxic Substance Control, Regional Water Quality Control Boards, and local health departments
  • Advised owners of underground storage tanks, of disclosure requirements, and application procedures for the California Underground Storage Tank Cleanup Fund
  • Obtained variance from discharge requirements from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District Defended professional liability claims against brokers, engineers, geologists, contractors, and design professionals for failure to discover underground storage tank in real estate transaction

Mold Litigation Team

To speak with a Burnham Brown attorney specializing in Environmental Law, call 510-444-6800 and ask to speak with a member of the Environmental Law Practice Group.