Lester Sotsky heads Arnold & Porter LLP's environmental practice. Named "Top Washington, DC Environmental Lawyer for 2010", he is a broadly experienced environmental regulation lawyer, with special focus on hazardous waste, water pollution and white collar matters. In recent years, his practice has concentrated more heavily on toxic tort and major environmental enforcement litigation. During his 30 years of practice he has also represented clients in a variety of other matters (e.g., securities, white collar, contract, and fraud litigation).
- Lead defense counsel in numerous toxic tort cases involving: varied contaminated media; metals, radioactive, organic and inorganic chemicals; drinking water, surface and groundwater, and air emissions; discontinued historical manufacturing operations and heavily regulated active facilities and businesses.
- Class actions: counsels major corporations regarding proactive means to mitigate exposure to environmental, toxic tort and product liabilities.
- National counsel to multiple clients on sophisticated environmental regulatory matters.
- Litigates enforcement cases and other environmental matters involving hazardous waste, Superfund, water pollution, and air pollution in numerous courts and administrative fora.
- Experienced appellate, civil, and criminal litigator.
- Counsels numerous clients on regulatory compliance and environmental health and safety management matters.
- Advises in the design and implementation of environmental management and compliance programs.
- Headed numerous environmental due diligence teams, and negotiated (and litigated) contractual agreements concerning environmental and product liabilities in mergers, acquisitions, and other transactions.
Environmental Representative Matters
- DOE Investigation of Railroad. Defended CSX in D.C. Department of Environment investigation and enforcement action concerning alleged unlawful, unreported petroleum discharges to tributary of the Anacostia River. Case successfully resolved by negotiated consent decree.
- RCRA Regulation of Recycling Practices. Counsel to leading waste management company on applicability of federal hazardous waste (RCRA) regulation to various recycling practices and products.
- Numeric Nutrient Water Quality Criteria. Litigation challenging EPA’s plenary numeric nutrient water quality criteria in federal court in Florida; leading Mosaic’s regulatory analysis and advocacy in respect of these new regulations.
- Oil Spill Cleanup and Litigation. Represents BP in connection with multiple aspects of the environmental regulatory, cleanup and litigation matters arising from the Deepwater Horizon incident.
- National RCRA Enforcement Defense. Represents the Mosaic Company in defense of a “national initiative” by EPA and the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) seeking rigorous enforcement of Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) hazardous waste requirements at mineral processing facilities subject to the Bevill Amendment, which excludes certain such activities and whose scope and applicability are the subject of dispute between the industry and the government.
- Trichloroethylene (TCE) in Drinking Water Cases. Lead counsel for Foster Wheeler in class action, wrongful death, personal injury and individual property damage lawsuits in Northeastern Pennsylvania. All cases successfully resolved; representing client in negotiations with the EPA over further investigations and cleanup.
- Leading Defense and Government Contractor. Provides product liability and litigation mitigation advice to leading manufacturer of high technology products involving potentially hazardous materials and/or pathways of exposure to third parties.
- Pesticides Class Action Litigation. Represented former chemical manufacturer in defense of large class action brought by neighbors of former facility, seeking massive damages for property and personal injuries associated with surface and groundwater migration of pesticides and other contaminants; case successfully settled for “cost of defense.”
- PCB MassTort Litigation. Lead counsel in Los Angeles polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) class action toxic tort case involving more than 100 claimants alleging multiple adverse health effects and other damages.
- Successful Tampa Class Action Settlement. Successfully settled a purported class action against Honeywell allegedly on behalf of several thousand victims of organic chemical contamination of groundwater, with dramatically reduced settlement class, claims, and damages.
- Louisville Class Action Air Pollution Cases.Successfully settled precertification (and well ahead of other, companion cases), a multi-hundred person class action brought by neighbors of a Hexion Specialty Chemicals manufacturing facility for alleged harms associated with routine air emissions.
- DC Circuit Judicial Review Victory. Represented five independent aluminum producers in successful challenge to EPA’s “land band” standard for spent aluminum potliners, resulting in first judicial rejection of EPA’s reliance on the TCLP (Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure) as a basis for regulation; also successfully secured the first withdrawal of a “delisting” of a hazardous waste, by demonstrating to EPA Region 6 that it had erred in evaluating the waste stream resulting from a competitor’s technology (which assessment contributed to the agency’s rationale for the land band standard overturned by the DC Circuit).
Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business 2011-2015 for Environment (DC)
Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business 2007-2011 for Products Liability: Toxic Torts
The Legal 500 US 2009-2014 "Leading Lawyer" for Environment: Litigation
Washington, DC Super Lawyers 2011 for Environmental Litigation
Washington Business Journal's "Top Washington Lawyers" 2009: Winner for Environmental Law
"Q&A With Arnold & Porter's Lester Sotsky
" Environmental Law360,
March 22, 2013
and Jonathan Martel
"A Clean Air Act Twilight Zone: When Are Voluntary Testing or Monitoring Results Reportable or Determinative of Compliance?
" FindLaw, Fall 2008
"Mitigating Toxic Tort Liability, a Primer on Successful (Proactive) Risk Management and Litigation Strategies
" Furnished privately to clients, 2008
"Compartmentalizing of Environmental Liabilities
" Celesq® , Inc., October 2007
"Attorney-Client Privilege: How Too Much of a Good Thing Can be Bad for the Health of Your Attorney-Client Privilege
" Furnished privately to clients, Spring 2007