Description of Major Cases:
C. de Baca v. ASARCO, Inc.: Class action toxic tort lawsuit successfully settled on the eve of trial in 1999. Mining concern agreed to remediate approximately 300 residential properties in north Denver contaminated with arsenic, and pay damages to residents. Settlement value: $12.3 million.
Neighbors for a Toxic Free Community v. Vulcan Materials Co.: First reported decision in the nation under the Emergency Planning provisions of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. Company’s failure to notify local agencies after its rail car spill of hydrochloric acid prompted the evacuation of 200 families and opened the door to a successful citizen suit by the residents. Published at 964 F.Supp. 1448 (D.Colo. 1997).
Trustees for Alaska v. State of Alaska: Two successful challenges of an oil and gas lease sale in state waters off the coast of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Decision compelled a pre-lease sale analysis of the risks of transporting oil to market and a review of potential archeological and seismic impacts under the state’s coastal zone management program. Published at 795 P.2d 805 (Alaska 1990) and 851 P.2d 1340 (Alaska 1993).
Lopez, et al. v. Duke & Long Distributing Company, et al.: After the largest leaking underground storage tank (“LUST”) incident ever reported in Colorado, four families in La Salle settled this action in 2005 against Circle K, Conoco-Phillips, Inc. and other companies. Settlement value: subject to confidentiality agreement.
Idaho Sporting Congress v. Computrol: Held that the Community Right-to-Know Act authorizes citizen suits for wholly past violations and allowed suit against fishing equipment company to proceed. Published at 952 F.Supp. 690 (D. Idaho 1996).
Trustees for Alaska v. Lujan: Federal approval of oil drilling which jeopardized Alaska’s Beaufort Sea polar bear population was challenged under the Marine Mammal Protection Act based on the oil companies’ lack of “incidental take” authority. Soon after the suit was filed, fifteen oil companies and their contractors asked the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to promulgate the incidental take regulations at issue.
ARCO v. Coastal Policy Council: Represented the Native village of Kaktovik, located off the coast of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, in an attempt to protect whaling through the imposition of restrictions on proposed oil development.
NYPIRG v. Town of Islip (and related lawsuits): Suit to nullify State arrangement which permitted Islip to expand environmentally unsound landfill in return for accepting the infamous Islip “Garbage Barge” trash. Three preliminary injunctions obtained requiring inspection of the Garbage Barge’s contents and prohibiting its unloading in Nassau County, Queens and Brooklyn, New York. Trial in Brooklyn increased national awareness of the urban garbage crisis and recycling.
NYPIRG v. Williams: These rulings slowed and ultimately halted state approval of one of the nation’s largest (polluting) urban incinerators which would have been placed at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Rulings compelled the disqualification of the hearing officer due to his conflicts of interest. Published at 506 N.Y.S.2d 509 (N.Y. Sup. 1986), aff’d, 511 N.Y.S.2d 864 (N.Y.A.D. 1st Dept. 1987).
Groark v. Romeo: Fifty-five complaints filed in 1986-87 against election officials to compel them to register college students to vote. The trial court reversed one-third of the challenged decisions in 1986. In 1987, all complaining students (approx. 30) were awarded the right to vote. The New York State appellate court decision further relaxed the residency requirements for voting by college students. Published at 521 N.Y.S.2d 900 (N.Y.A.D. 4th Dept. 1987).