Catastrophic Event/Disaster Litigation

A catastrophic event or disaster resulting from a spill, release, fire, explosion, or blowout has the potential to cause substantial damage to a company.  Such an event demands an immediate, multi-faceted response in order to attempt to minimize regulatory issues, business and supply interruption issues, contractual and tort liability issues, and issues involving the preservation of evidence.  We have significant, on-the-ground experience representing clients in the immediate aftermath of catastrophic events and disasters, during initial government investigations relating to disasters, and continuing through the conclusion of regulatory and litigation proceedings.  In addition, because catastrophic event and disaster litigation is an area in which prior preparation is key, we provide counseling to companies before any such event occurs, to assist in developing and implementing a strategy for responding should such an event occur in the future.

Representative Matters:

  • Served as co-lead trial counsel in successfully defending Colonial Pipeline Company in the first case to be tried arising from the rupture of four petroleum pipelines and the largest inland gasoline spill in U.S. history and a large fire. The plaintiffs claimed personal injuries and property damage, and sought millions in punitive damages.  Following a 12-week trial, a Jefferson County (Beaumont), Texas, jury rendered a unanimous verdict of no liability and causation on behalf of Colonial. These plaintiffs were part of a larger group of 17,000 persons who brought suit in more than 40 lawsuits filed in five counties, and the trial was selected by The National Law Journal as the nation’s top environmental/toxic tort defense victory in one of 15 cases in various categories receiving similar recognition.
  • Represented the owner and operator of a large natural gas pipeline that was struck by a third-party contractor resulting in an explosion that killed one person and injured others and resulted in multiple lawsuits and regulatory action. Involvement began in the immediate aftermath of the incident and continued through the resolution of the litigation matters.
  • Represented an energy company in connection with a salt dome gas storage facility gas release and fire, participated in the response to the incident in anticipation of litigation and claims, and represented the company in litigation brought by area residents and businesses.
  • Represented petrochemical company in connection with a large refinery explosion resulting in substantial property damage; responded to the scene within twenty-four hours of the occurrence and assisted with issues involving regulatory agency investigations, claims by community members, and issues related to anticipated litigation.

Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.