Environmental Litigation

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Dickinson Wright attorneys are well-versed in the litigation of environmental matters from cleanup and cost recovery to personal injury to agency disputes ranging from large class actions to multi-party commercial matters to individual permit denials. Our team of experienced litigators and technical attorneys provide the right blend of skills to address the challenges of complex environmental cases.


While no business welcomes the prospect of litigation, our lawyers have the experience necessary to obtain the best results possible for clients faced with that challenge. We understand the potential factors and nuances involved in environmental-related damages claims, such as those for cleanup, personal injury and property damage, and we know when and how to reduce the size and substance of the claims.  With offices located across the United States and in Canada, our team is well-positioned to effectively assist organizations with their environmental needs whenever and wherever necessary.


Our Team


Our environmental attorneys monitor new developments in environmental litigation through our active involvement in the environmental and regulated community. Our members have served on: the Environmental Law Sections of the Michigan, Arizona and Tennessee State Bars; the Air and Waste Management Association; the Michigan Manufacturers Association Environmental Committee; the American Bar Association, Section of Environment, Energy and Resources; the Federal Bar Association Environmental Law Committee as Chair to the Michigan Environmental Law Section of the State Bar; Chair of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Section of the Arizona State Bar; and as Vice-Chair of the Tennessee Bar Association Environmental Law Section. Our members also serve as faculty members for Bar sponsored environmental seminars, author articles on important environmental legal issues and are involved in stakeholder groups that influence and develop environmental policies and legislation. Many of our environmental litigation lawyers have been recognized by Super Lawyers® and Best Lawyers®.


Our Services


When collaboration and negotiation are no longer viable options, our attorneys regularly defend clients in actions and investigations initiated by federal, state, and local environmental agencies. Both in court and in administrative proceedings, we have successfully represented clients in alleged violations relating to landfills, industrial solvents, dry cleaners, underground storage tanks, and surface spills brought under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), Clean Air Act (CAA), Clean Water Act (CWA), and other laws.


Our work in administrative, civil and criminal defense runs from response to initial requests for information through penalty and supplemental environmental project (SEP) negotiations, and final settlement.  We have successfully defended clients against actions involving air emissions, soil vapor gases, soil, sediment and groundwater impacts, noise and vibrations, asbestos and mold. In each case, we achieve the best possible outcome consistent with our clients’ business objectives and budget concerns. We represent clients before regulatory bodies and in federal and state courts at all levels.


Our environmental litigation team defends clients facing a variety of environmental disputes, including:


  • Class actions

  • Civil and criminal government actions

  • Multiparty joinder actions

  • Citizen suits

  • Superfund and state cost recovery and contribution litigation

  • Administrative trials and appeals

  • Environmental compliance litigation

  • Toxic tort litigation  

  • National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Litigation

  • Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Citizen Suits

We also prosecute claims for our clients in environmental litigation, including traditional tort claims and the vigorous pursuit of insurance coverage. We bring actions against governmental agencies when necessary to support our clients’ rights to obtain environmental permits. Our representation of municipal wastewater treatment plant operations is just one example of our flexibility in both prosecuting and defending environmental claims. Our experience and integrity are reflected in the fact that other attorneys seek our assistance as Group Counsel in multi-party environmental actions and as an arbitrator of environmental disputes.

Representative Matters


Served as trial counsel for an oil company in a case involving alleged property damage from naturally-occurring radioactive material (“NORM”), resulting in the first defense verdict in the U.S. in such a case.


Represented a major steel bar manufacturer, negotiating a consent decree with the state’s air quality division that reduced the penalty by over $22, 500.


Successfully prosecuted an irrigation district and its pesticide applicator on behalf of a large agricultural client over crop damage resulting from pesticide contamination of irrigation water.


Arbitrated a multi-million dollar dispute between the seller and purchaser of a mixed-use project involving groundwater contamination.


Represented developers in connection with defense claims related to new releases and pursuit of claims related to historic soil and groundwater contamination.


Successfully appealed Title V, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), wastewater discharge and wetlands permit conditions.


Counseled a municipality in litigation regarding proposed in-situ mining operation, and represented mining operation against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) involving environmental concerns and other issues relevant to interpretation of deed restrictions.


Successfully negotiated a value insurance plan covering more than 100 residential and commercial properties to forestall homeowner litigation associated with one of Michigan’s largest remediation sites.

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