Experience

State Superfund Trial

Represented a transportation company in a 4-week trial in federal District Court in Washington in a state Superfund contribution action relating to a former wood treating site. Obtained a complete defense judgment.

First Solar - Desert Sunlight Project Approval

As lead outside counsel to First Solar on environmental, real estate and permitting issues, we obtained the key U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Record of Decision (ROD) that cleared the way for the development and financing of the largest PV project ever approved on public lands.  The Desert Sunlight project is a 550-megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic facility located on approximately 4,000 acres of land administered by the BLM in Riverside County.  We assisted First Solar secure numerous permits and approvals from other federal, state and local agencies, including the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Game, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and Riverside County.  We also assisted First Solar negotiate protest settlement agreements with major environmental organizations and individuals, addressing environmental and cultural resource concerns.

First Solar- Desert Topaz Permitting Project

As lead outside counsel to First Solar on environmental, real estate and permitting issues, we obtained key federal, state and local environmental permit approvals for the construction and operation of the 550 megawatt Topaz Solar Farm Project in San Luis Obispo County, California.  This project will be located on approximately 3,500 acres of private land.  We assisted First Solar in securing many permits and approvals from a wide range of federal, state and local agencies, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Game and County of San Luis Obispo.  We also assisted First Solar in negotiating agreements with both national and local environmental groups and community organizations that address environmental and other topics relating to the projects.

FMC Corporation

Farella represents FMC Corporation in separate coordinated lawsuits filed throughout the State of California regarding groundwater contamination due to historical applications of soil fumigants.  Farella successfully negotiated resolution of seven of the original eight lawsuits.

Hookston Station Toxic Tort Litigation

Represented Union Pacific Railroad in a mass tort litigation involving 225 plaintiffs in Contra Costa Superior Court alleging personal injuries and property damages from groundwater contamination. We obtained summary judgment eliminating the plaintiffs' strict liability/ultra hazardous activity, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, medical monitoring and "remediation" causes of action. We also won summary judgment of negligence-based property damage claims from 50 of the plaintiffs. Following these advantageous rulings, we negotiated a very favorable settlement of the remaining claims.

Humboldt BayKeeper Clean Water Act Litigation

Represented Union Pacific Railroad in this citizen suit involving alleged violations of the Clean Water Act and RCRA relating to a former railroad maintenance yard in Eureka, California. Only a few months before trial, Union Pacific retained Farella to take over its defense. We obtained dismissal of a key cause of action, reducing the number of alleged Clean Water Act violations from more than 3,500 to 37, and submitted trial briefs that significantly undercut plaintiffs’ theories of liability under both RCRA and the Clean Water Act. The litigation resolved favorably shortly thereafter. 

Los Angeles World Airports

Represent Los Angeles World Airports in connection with over $15 billion of new construction at LAX, the transfer of the Ontario International Airport to a joint powers authority comprising the City of Ontario and the County of San Bernardino, and in trial in Los Angeles Superior Court.

Titeflex

Serve as national coordinating counsel for products liability litigation relating to gas delivery system, and products liability counseling relating to Prop. 65.

Angeles Chemical Company

Represent Omega Chemical PRP Group, as common counsel, which includes 115 defendants named in a complex environmental cost recovery lawsuit filed by Angeles Chemical Company in Southern California federal court.  We also represent two defendants in toxic tort litigation brought by nine individual plaintiffs involving sites in Los Angeles County.  Plaintiffs allege a variety of personal injury claims arising from indoor air exposure.

CEQA Entitlement

Represent DTE Energy Resources, a company that develops energy, and energy related technology and provides electric and natural gas to residential and commercial consumers. In these particular matters, we assisted in environmental/land use entitlement issue under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and air quality permitting of methane recovery/energy production facilities in California.  

Cost Recovery Litigation and Related Remediation Counseling at Former Shooting Range

Representing California real estate developers Otay Land Company/Flat Rock Land Company, subsidiaries of HomeFed Corporation, in cleanup cost recovery litigation against multiple defendants who once operated a multi-acre former shooting range near San Diego, CA.  The litigation has raised issues of first impression and national importance that were argued before the Ninth Circuit.  The State of California, the Sierra Club (now Earth Justice) and the Natural Resources Defense Council all filed amicus curiae briefs supporting Otay/Flat Rock – Farella legal positions.

Environmental Species Act Litigation

Obtained a significant victory for the State of Alaska in an Environmental Species Act litigation focused on the ribbon seal.  Judge Laport of the US District Court, Northern California upheld the National Marine Fisheries Service decision that the ribbon seal did not warrant a listing under the ESA.  At issue was the size of the ribbon seals’ population and declining habitat.  Judge Laporte’s ruling clarifies species classification under the ESA stating that not every climate-imperiled or climate challenged species will warrant listing under the ESA, and listing is determined on a case-by-case basis in which current conditions (population, conditions and prospects), the effects of climate change, and the “foreseeable future” may serve as key determinants.

Industrial Park Remediation

A commercial property client discovered that a portfolio of properties it acquired included an industrial park where historical releases of degreasing solvents had resulted in a contaminated groundwater plume leading off-site and, as a result, faced significant and uncertain costs and resource impacts.  We advised the client on conducting an investigation to identify responsible parties, used that investigation to bring those parties to the table and negotiated a cost-sharing agreement under which the parties have cooperatively investigated and remediated the site.  Additionally, we coordinated closely with the client’s insurer to obtain coverage for the client’s cost, which minimized the financial impact and allowed the client to focus on leasing the property to commercial tenants and develop a plan for its eventual sale after the remedial work is complete.

Methane Recovery / Energy Production Facilities

Representing DTE Energy Resources, an energy and energy technology provider for residential and commercial electric and natural gas, in environmental / land use entitlement under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and air quality permitting of methane recovery/energy production facilities in California.

San Rafael Rock Quarry

Represented The Dutra Group in obtaining unanimous approval of the Marin County Board of Supervisors, following analysis and public review under CEQA and SMARA, for continued surface mining and proposed reclamation of San Rafael Rock Quarry.  We also represented Dutra in favorably resolving nuisance litigation by the State of California, County of Marin and a coalition of property owners that predated the Supervisors’ action.

Firm Highlights

Event

CWA Regulation of Discharges to Groundwater: Permitting Uncertainty in Light of Circuit Court Split

Sarah Bell will speak on the Strafford live webinar, "CWA Regulation of Discharges to Groundwater: Permitting Uncertainty in Light of Circuit Court Split." This CLE webinar will discuss the "indirect discharge" theory of Clean...

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Publication

Trump Administration Continues Project Permitting Streamlining Efforts

The White House’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) announced on June 20, 2018 that it is considering updating its regulations implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Specifically, the CEQ issued an  Advance Notice of...

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Publication

The Uncertain Future of California’s Vehicle Emission Standards

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Event

Identifying and Preparing Expert Witnesses for Trial

How do you identify the key experts you need for trial? Once you have them, what are the best practices for preparing them for trial? How do these practices vary depending on your venue, and...

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Publication

Re-Imagining Environmental Governance: The Future of Environmental Law

Not to dwell on the past, but I have been struck of late reading obituaries of certain leading figures in environmental law by a recurrent theme, which is essentially captured by the following quote:...

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News

Farella Attorneys Honored With 2019 CLAY Award for M&A Deal

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News

Linda Sobczynski Accepted Into 2019 Clean Energy Leadership Institute Fellowship Program

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News

Farella Braun + Martel Wins Benchmark Litigation 2019 San Francisco Firm of the Year Award

SAN FRANCISCO, March 15, 2019: Farella Braun + Martel announces it has been named “San Francisco Firm of the Year” by Benchmark Litigation . Farella Partner Douglas Young accepted the award on behalf of...

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Publication

San Francisco Bay Regional Water Board Adopts General Permit for Vineyard Properties in the Napa River and Sonoma Creek Watersheds

Over the last several years, the Regional Water Quality Control Board, for the San Francisco Bay Region (Water Board), determined that adoption of Waste Discharge Requirements were needed to better protect the Napa River...

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Publication

Emerging Contaminants: Coming to an NRD Site Near You!

What Are Emerging Contaminants? Emerging contaminants are chemicals in the environment for which the health risks—both human and ecological—remain unknown. They are also sometimes called contaminants of emerging concern, since the chemicals, or products...

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