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.

Experience

  • 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

    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

    Representation of a large American energy company

    Representation of a large American energy company in a putative class action filed by lawyers representing a proposed class of 1,500 residents.  The complaint asserted claims for nuisance, trespass, and negligence based on emissions from an electric power generation facility notwithstanding our client’s compliance with its Clean Air Act permit.  We initially won a motion to dismiss all claims, and after that was reversed on appeal we briefed and won a motion to strike the class allegations.  Ultimately, the plaintiffs withdrew their claims and the client paid nothing, in what amounted to a complete victory.

  • 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

    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.

Team Leaders

Full Team

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