Bryan Cave maintains a nationally recognized toxic tort team. Our attorneys have represented clients in all manner of toxic tort claims – ranging from environmental contamination cases involving entire neighborhoods to single plaintiff personal injury product and workplace exposure cases. We have 20 dedicated toxic tort partners leading teams in our offices around the country, including Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, New York, Boulder, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Southern Illinois and Phoenix.

Avoiding Litigation

Bryan Cave has a record of success in helping clients determine how best to approach and manage toxic tort risks, including conducting scientific studies; implementing effective and innovative remediation solutions; interfacing with regulatory agencies such as USEPA and OSHA; coordinating with insurance carriers; developing internal protocols; and pre-empting plaintiff litigation strategies.

Bryan Cave attorneys consistently aid clients in communicating effectively with the U.S. government and its citizens.  In fact, many Bryan Cave environmental attorneys previously worked for USEPA in lead management positions.  Bryan Cave attorneys have decades of experience helping clients procure insurance coverage.  Below are some examples of successful early phase strategies.

  • Represented food company that discovered its product had been contaminated by third party prior to sale.  Successfully developed and executed strategy to prevent any health hazards, mitigate risk, investigate causation and scope, comply with regulatory requirements and provide appropriate notifications. Convinced insurance company to pay for multi-million dollar loss.
  • Developed and oversaw scientific research and media strategy to respond to unfounded attacks by competitors that our client’s product contained harmful chemicals.  The competitors backed down.

Toxic Tort Litigation

Sometimes litigation is inevitable.  When that time comes, Bryan Cave lawyers are ready to build a successful defense. 

We understand the science applicable to many toxic tort exposure cases and we have the background and experience to learn the science surrounding new toxic torts quickly and efficiently.  We have defended claims involving a broad range of chemicals, including Agent Orange, benzene, dioxin, radioactive materials, BTEX, diesel range organics, PCBs, diacetyl, rubber hydrocarbons, ammonia, chlorinated solvents, pesticides, volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and metals such as mercury, lead and arsenic.

We also know which experts to hire and how to work with them to deploy a winning scientific defense.  We have long-standing relationships with experts in the fields of toxicology, epidemiology, medicine, multiple medical specialties, risk assessment, hydrogeology, forensic chemistry, industrial hygiene, state of the art, environmental engineering, exposure modeling, vapor intrusion, remediation and property damage valuation. 

We have prevailed in cases on a myriad of substantive and procedural defenses.  Our successes include: 1) winning Daubert and Frye challenges; 2) defeating class certification; 3) obtaining dismissal through the use of Lone Pine Case Management Orders; 4) barring claims on the basis of statute of limitations, statute of repose and preemption; 5) defeating novel causation theories, such as market share liability; and 6) many trial victories.

We have significant experience with multi-jurisdictional coordination.  We have served as national counsel for Fortune 500 companies coordinating extensive nationwide litigation, including serving as lead MDL counsel, regional trial counsel, national discovery counsel and national settlement counsel.  We are particularly adept at handling cases in plaintiff-friendly jurisdictions such as Madison County, Illinois; Los Angeles, California; and St. Louis, Missouri.  In fact, we have offices and experienced toxic tort attorneys in each of these locales.

Our current clients include companies in a broad spectrum of industries – chemical  manufacturers, refineries, industrial manufacturers, mine operators, agriculture, utilities, railroads, food companies and consumer good manufacturers, suppliers and distributors.

Representative Experience

Strategies at Work

Following are examples of strategies we have implemented to achieve successful results for clients.

The Science and Challenging Expert Testimony

  • Represented several major corporations in litigation involving alleged allergic reactions to natural rubber proteins in latex gloves including successfully excluding key causation expert in a Daubert hearing in multi-district litigation and serving as national counsel as well as trial counsel.
  • Successfully excluded all opinion testimony from environmental experts under Daubert in soil and groundwater contamination case in Colorado, ultimately leading to favorable settlement for client.
  • Obtained directed verdict at trial based upon cross-examination of plaintiffs’ environmental experts, extracting key admissions regarding causation and damages.
  • Oversaw design and implementation of simulation study that established client’s product did not emit asbestos fibers, causing plaintiffs case to unravel.

Defeating Class Certification

  • Defeated class certification in case involving 80 residents alleging exposure to pesticides and other chemicals. 
  • Convinced court to reject class certification motion in case involving more than 200 individuals arising out of accidental release of ammonia and methylamines.
  • Defeated motion for certification of medical monitoring class in California case alleging TCE exposure in drinking water.
  • Defeated class motion in Texas state court cases alleging arsenic exposure. 

Case Management Tools

  • Defense of a uranium milling company in a personal injury and wrongful death action against allegations of exposure to radioactive and non-radioactive substances.  We persuaded the court to enter a Lone Pine-style Case Management Order requiring plaintiffs to produce expert affidavits making a prima facie showing of harmful exposure and specific causation.  Twenty-five plaintiffs were dismissed after they failed to provide the affidavits.  The remaining three plaintiffs submitted affidavits, but their claims were dismissed on summary judgment.  Ruling was affirmed by the Tenth Circuit.
  • As national or regional counsel, we regularly coordinate the removal and transfer of cases to MDL panels.

Wins in Plaintiff Friendly Jurisdictions

  • In state court in Nevada, on behalf of largest managed care organization in the country, obtained early judgment on the pleadings with respect to absence of physical injury in case involving 60,000 putative class members seeking to certify a class to obtain medical monitoring as a remedy for possible exposure to blood-borne pathogens.
  • In Madison County, Illinois, used forensic chemistry to establish our client was not responsible for a large, historic plume of millions of gallons of hydrocarbons.
  • In St. Louis, disposed of lead paint mass tort action at summary judgment stage based upon challenge to market share liability theory.  Missouri Supreme Court affirmed trial court decision. 

Environmental

We have litigated multi-plaintiff personal injury and property damage claims involving contamination impacting all environmental media – groundwater, surface water, ambient air, indoor air and soil. 

Bryan Cave is uniquely positioned to handle these cases as many of its environmental attorneys are litigators who have tried environmental and toxic tort cases to verdict. Often times these cases are filed at sites where state or federal agencies are already involved.  These cases require counsel who understand how to coordinate and manage the competing demands of the regulators and the plaintiffs.  In certain situations, the environmental and occupational safety laws can be used to the advantage of the defendants in fending off toxic tort claims. 

  • Successfully defended a chemical manufacturer in dioxin exposure litigation arising out of its operation of herbicide plant.  Obtained defense verdicts in jury trial on claims brought by multiple plaintiffs who lived near the facility and in case brought by more than 100 employees.
  • Defense verdict for industrial manufacturing client in Illinois lead contamination property damage case involving breach of contract claim and allegations that client “violated” environmental laws.
  • Represented chemical client in California case involving exposure to sodium hypochlorite in three-month trial.  Case settled for nuisance value prior to verdict.
  • Successfully defended Colorado case at trial in which landowner claimed business was harmed by TCE groundwater plume.
  • Represented four chemical companies in Kentucky industrial complex in which plaintiffs asserted claims for cancer, increased risk of cancer and fear of cancer allegedly caused by air and water exposure to chemical emissions.  Successfully obtained dismissal of all claims at summary judgment.
  • Represent company in Navajo Tribal Court in claims arising from uranium operations. Claims allege injury due to exposure to radiation and heavy metal contamination.  Natural resource damages are also at issue.
  • Represented a major petroleum refinery in all of its asbestos and benzene litigation in the Methyl Tertiary-Butyl Ether (MTBE) litigation pending in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
  • Represented three industrial entities in the largest toxic tort action in Arizona involving alleged exposure to numerous industrial agents via groundwater, soil and air. One matter consists of more than 200,000 class members.
  • Represented petroleum refinery in class actions and mass tort suits brought in Madison County, Illinois by residents adjacent to refineries who alleged that petroleum contamination created plumes of hydrocarbons that decreased property values and caused medical injury necessitating medical monitoring.
  • Represented foreign and domestic defendants in a consolidated action in which more than 400 claimants alleged personal injuries, nuisance, property damage and “fear of” claims from the alleged exposure to a TCE plume emanating from a manufacturing facility that leached into the local groundwater.
  • Class counsel in a mass tort class action against a national railroad arising out of train derailment  that caused explosion of tank car carrying propylene gas and the subsequent evacuation of residences and businesses.

Workplace

We defend claims involving alleged exposure to toxic chemicals through a product or in the workplace environment.  Our experience includes all manner of claims (e.g., class actions, multi-district litigation, coordinated mass tort actions) and all types of claims (e.g., regulatory, consumer fraud, personal injury, property damages, punitive damages). 

  • Represented chemical manufacturer in series of cases arising from the sale of dibromochloropropane (DBCP), a pesticide, including mass tort actions brought in Texas, Louisiana, California, Hawaii and certain foreign countries.  We  defended related property damage claims brought by water authorities seeking damages as a result of the contamination of groundwater aquifers with DBCP.
  • Represented aircraft manufacturer in six month jury trial in California alleging that rain repellant used on aircraft was toxic and obtained favorable verdict for client.
  • Represented a major furniture manufacturer in Dupont Plaza Hotel Litigation (at the time the largest civil lawsuit in US history) with more than 2,000 plaintiffs, 250 defendants and more than $2 billion in claims, including claims that the client’s product gave off toxic fumes.
  • Principal outside counsel for the world’s largest carpet manufacturer in the indoor air quality litigation. Plaintiffs claim personal injuries from exposure to chemicals allegedly emitted from carpet.  Results include defeating an effort to certify a nationwide class action and achieving summary judgment in multiple state court cases.
  • Represented chemical client in case alleging workplace exposure to ethyl benzene caused death of fetus.  Case was settled for $10,000.  
  • Nationwide counsel for chemical producer in cases involving claims of “bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome” (otherwise referred to as “popcorn lung”) allegedly caused by the naturally-occurring chemical diacetyl.
  • Represent national baby bottle manufacturer in consolidated class actions seeking economic loss arising out of the manufacture of its baby bottles with the organic compound Bisphenol A (BPA).
  • Represented defendants in more than 1,000 lawsuits involving allegations concerning asbestos exposure.  Serve as national counsel for various defendants. We have had great success obtaining dismissal and summary judgment at early stages.