dcsimg Public and Private Nuisance Litigation

Public and Private Nuisance Litigation

Over the past decade, public and private nuisance claims have emerged as among the most potent weapons in the plaintiff’s bar arsenal. Drawn by Byzantine nuisance laws that allow plaintiffs to circumvent traditional requirements for a liability finding and even reach lawful, non-negligent activity, the number of nuisance suits has surged recently with the plaintiff’s bar targeting a wide variety of corporate defendants, including auto manufacturers, poultry farmers, beer and liquor manufacturers, pharmaceutical manufacturers, chemical manufacturers, subprime lenders and other financial institutions, food manufacturers, and electric utilities. The sheer breadth of the targets suggests that few corporate defendants are immune from such suits in the future, especially given the potential for lucrative payouts — recent verdicts and settlements in nuisance suits have reached billions of dollars.

The McGuireWoods Public and Private Nuisance Litigation team has extensive experience in navigating the challenges of defending clients against the vagaries of what has been called a “standard-less” tort, and has successfully defended a broad range of public and private nuisance cases. We have been at the forefront of some of the largest and most complex nuisance litigation in the nation for more than a decade, serving as: national coordinating counsel for a Fortune 100 chemical manufacturer in multiple state and federal jurisdictions in suits seeking billions of dollars; trial and appellate counsel for a major food manufacturer in 300 related complex, high-dollar nuisance cases; trial and appellate counsel for a Fortune 200 utility in multiple multi-billion nuisance cases alleging environmental contamination due to global warming and fly ash residue, and trial counsel for numerous other mass tort and class action nuisance suits alleging environmental contamination for a variety of different clients, including those in the transportation, utility, and agricultural industries.

The McGuireWoods nuisance litigation team’s strength is due to their significant depth of experience with every nuance of nuisance law. We have pioneered novel defenses to nuisance suits, obtaining dismissals based on statute of limitations, preemption, lack of proximate cause, and lack of product identification. We have experience in trying — and winning — nuisance cases at trial and on appeal. We also follow closely the rapid evolution of nuisance law by monitoring every significant nuisance case in the nation, and frequently publishing articles on nuisance law in national publications such as The National Law Journal, Toxics Law Reporter, and POWER magazine. Our team members have been interviewed and quoted on nuisance law developments by national and industry media such as NPR’s “All Things Considered,” The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The American Lawyer, Law.com, and Law360.com.

CONTACTS

Joy C. Fuhr Partner T: +1 804 775 4341
R. Trent Taylor Partner T: +1 804 775 1182
Steven R. Williams Partner T: +1 804 775 1141
Results 1-20 of 21
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RESULTS DEPEND ON A VARIETY OF FACTORS UNIQUE TO EACH CASE. PRIOR RESULTS DO NOT GUARANTEE OR PREDICT A SIMILAR OUTCOME.

Representative Matter

Global science company

Representing a global science company in a trial in which 10 of the largest municipalities in California filed suit alleging public nuisance against the former manufacturers of lead paint seeking abatement of lead paint from all residences in their respective jurisdictions.
Representative Matter

One of the largest producers and transporters of energy in the United States

Defense of one of the largest producers and transporters of energy in the United States in a multi-billion dollar nuisance suit alleging air and water contamination due to fly ash residue on behalf of over 450 plaintiffs.  Achieved dismissal of 10 of the 12 causes of action, as well as all of the water contamination allegations, and the medical monitoring, stigma, fear of future injury, and emotional injury damages.
Representative Matter

Global science company

National trial and coordinating counsel for a global science company in public nuisance/mass tort litigation in various jurisdictions nationwide relating to historic manufacture and sale of lead-based paints.
Representative Matter

Cement company

Effective defense of cement company in nuisance class action related to fugitive and stack emissions in plaintiff-friendly jurisdiction. Defeated class certification and won summary judgment for defendant after two-week jury trial.
Representative Matter

Global science company

Effective defense of global science company in high-profile public nuisance litigation in New Jersey state court relating to the historic manufacture and sale of lead-based paints. Resulted in New Jersey Supreme Court reversing trial court decision and ordering trial court to dismiss.
Representative Matter

Large energy producer

Representing a large coal-fired power plant in the defense of a class action claim by 1500 surrounding residents for particulate emission involving first-impression issues of preemption of state nuisance law.
Representative Matter

Producer of construction materials

Successful defense of nuisance action in federal court brought by 68 families against two defendants who operate quarries.
Representative Matter

One of the largest producers and transporters of energy in the United States

Representation of multiple defendants including one of the largest producers and transporters of energy in the United States in a high-profile nuisance suit in federal district court in Mississippi asserting that the defendants’ air emissions are contributing to global warming.
Representative Matter

Leading pork producer and processor

In a test case the plaintiff alleged that our client’s farming operations caused property damages and severe personal injuries to him and his family. After a three-week trial, the jury deliberated for just over an hour and issued a defense verdict in favor of our client.
Representative Matter

World's largest pork producer and processor

Defense of the world's largest pork producer and processor in a claim for private temporary nuisance arising from large swine confined animal feeding operation, alleging numerous personal and emotional injuries, as well as damage to property, livestock and water quality. Defense verdict.
Representative Matter

Worlds largest pork producer and processor

Represented our client in matter filed alleging numerous nuisance cases. Reached settlement with all claimants and case was dismissed with prejudice.
Representative Matter

One of the largest producers and transporters of energy in the United States

Defense of one of the largest producers and transporters of energy in the United States in a multibillion-dollar nuisance suit alleging air and water contamination due to fly ash residue on behalf of over 450 plaintiffs.  Achieved dismissal of 10 of the 12 causes of action, as well as all of the water contamination allegations, and the medical monitoring, stigma, fear of future injury, and emotional injury damages.
Representative Matter

Timber products and services supplier

Defense of nuisance class action in plaintiff-friendly jurisdiction brought by residents alleging environmental contamination.
Representative Matter

Property owners

Effective representation of plaintiffs in nuisance action resulting in $1.6 million jury verdict after six-day jury trial.
Case Study

Richmond trial team wins nuisance and trespass case

In 2006, upland developers Boyd Corporation and Ramblewood Forrest LLC broke ground on a 175-home subdivision in Chesterfield County, Va. Despite zoning and permit conditions requiring vigilant sediment controls, the developers allowed 3 million tons of fine clay to brown up and then kill a pristine 3-acre farm pond owned by McGuireWoods' clients Ronald and Joyce Luck. They also increased storm water discharge volume to the point of imperiling the Lucks' dirt dam and emergency spillway, and destroying buffering wetlands.

Representative Matter

Global science company

Effective defense of global science company in high-profile public nuisance litigation in Ohio state court relating to the historic manufacture and sale of lead-based paints. Resulted in trial court granting defendants' motion to dismiss and dismissing case.
Representative Matter

World’s largest pork producer and processor

Effective defense of leading pork producer and processor in nuisance class actions seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in compensatory and punitive damages for alleged environmental contamination to state waters.
Representative Matter

Global paper and packaging company

Defense of a global paper and packaging company in environmental contamination nuisance suit in federal court related to oil and gas operations. Selected as lead trial attorney. Settled in the first week of trial.
Representative Matter

Group of agricultural concerns

Representation of a group of agricultural concerns, challenging a county’s ban on the land application of biosolids. The Virginia Supreme Court sustained our clients challenge striking down the local law, finding the ordinance was preempted by state law.
Representative Matter

World’s largest pork producer and processor

Effective defense of leading pork producer and processor in nuisance suit alleging environmental contamination of river. Trial court granted defendant’s demurrer, and dismissal was affirmed by the Supreme Court of Virginia.
Results 1-20 of 21
Richard C Beaulieu Richard C. Beaulieu
Associate
One James Center
901 East Cary Street
Richmond, VA 23219-4030

T: +1 804 775 1138
F: +1 804 225 5402
vCard
Leo J M Boyd Leo J. M. Boyd
Counsel
One James Center
901 East Cary Street
Richmond, VA 23219-4030

T: +1 804 775 1066
F: +1 804 698 2025
vCard
Tennille J Checkovich Tennille J. Checkovich
Partner
One James Center
901 East Cary Street
Richmond, VA 23219-4030

T: +1 804 775 4758
F: +1 804 440 7770
vCard
Diane Flannery Diane Flannery
Partner
One James Center
901 East Cary Street
Richmond, VA 23219-4030

T: +1 804 775 1015
F: +1 804 698 2047
vCard
Joy C Fuhr Joy C. Fuhr
Partner
One James Center
901 East Cary Street
Richmond, VA 23219-4030

T: +1 804 775 4341
F: +1 804 698 2056
vCard
Adam Greaves Adam Greaves
Partner
11 Pilgrim Street
London EC4V 6RN
United Kingdom

T: +44 20 7632 1649
F: +44 20 7632 1638
vCard
Christian E Henneke Christian E. Henneke
Partner
One James Center
901 East Cary Street
Richmond, VA 23219-4030

T: +1 804 775 1050
F: +1 804 698 2136
vCard
Eugene E Mathews III Eugene E. Mathews III
Partner
One James Center
901 East Cary Street
Richmond, VA 23219-4030

2001 K Street N.W.
Suite 400
Washington, DC 20006-1040

T: +1 804 775 1313
F: +1 804 698 2108
vCard
Christiaan A Mazza Christiaan A. Mazza
Associate
434 Fayetteville Street
Suite 2600
Raleigh, NC 27601

T: +1 919 755 6694
F: +1 919 755 6597
vCard
Mitchell K Morris Mitchell K. Morris
Partner
One James Center
901 East Cary Street
Richmond, VA 23219-4030

T: +1 804 775 4370
F: +1 804 698 2129
vCard
Jontille D Ray Jontille D. Ray
Senior Counsel
One James Center
901 East Cary Street
Richmond, VA 23219-4030

T: +1 804 775 1173
F: +1 804 698 2232
vCard
Lisa M Sharp Lisa M. Sharp
Associate
One James Center
901 East Cary Street
Richmond, VA 23219-4030

T: +1 804 775 1850
F: +1 804 698 2225
vCard
R. Trent Taylor R. Trent Taylor
Partner
One James Center
901 East Cary Street
Richmond, VA 23219-4030

T: +1 804 775 1182
F: +1 804 225 5409
vCard
Steven R Williams Steven R. Williams
Partner
One James Center
901 East Cary Street
Richmond, VA 23219-4030

T: +1 804 775 1141
F: +1 804 698 2208
vCard
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Legal Alert

The Death of Environmental Common Law?

The Ninth Circuit's Decision in Native Village of Kivalina v. ExxonMobil Corp.

October 3, 2012
Results 1-1 of 1