Toxic Torts Business Litigation, Class Action Defense

Toxic tort litigation is critical, high-stakes litigation, often involving dozens or hundreds of claimants, many of whom claim substantial injury. The cases are not limited to manufacturers of potentially hazardous chemicals or waste disposal companies. Any user of potentially hazardous materials could face claims of liability from employees or third parties. Toxic tort cases are among the most complex cases to litigate because they require knowledge of environmental issues, fate and transport in air, groundwater and soil, and medical causation and epidemiological issues. All of the complex scientific and technical information must be made simple and understandable to judges and juries. Gunster attorneys have demonstrated experience, successfully representing defendants in toxic tort and mass tort litigation in Florida.

Gunster combines expertise in the environmental aspects of toxic tort cases and the scientific causation and damage aspects of these cases. Gunster uses a team approach in toxic tort cases by combining environmental regulatory lawyers and environmental litigators with lawyers who focus on complex tort and commercial litigation. Gunster’s environmental lawyers have decades of experience dealing with federal environmental laws and with Florida’s complex and unique environmental laws, and over the years have developed solid working relationships with local, state and federal agencies in Florida. Our lawyers also have close relationships with the leading environmental consultants in Florida, and those consultants often serve as expert witnesses on complex environmental issues, such as hydrogeology, soil and groundwater contamination, and natural attenuation. Our lawyers have handled numerous complex tort cases in Florida, including both toxic tort cases as well as complex product liability litigation cases, which involve similar epidemiological questions.

Our lawyers work with our clients early in case assessment to learn the facts and establish case themes and strategy. We work early to find the best qualified, knowledgeable and persuasive expert witnesses in the environmental, medical and scientific fields. We try cases to juries in state and federal court on a regular basis.

Gunster lawyers supplement the defense of toxic tort cases with expertise in environmental regulatory matters and insurance coverage matters. Toxic tort cases often relate to environmental enforcement by government agencies and remediation matters, and it is important to have environmental regulatory lawyers who understand and work regularly with the local and state officials responsible for the enforcement and remediation. Our insurance coverage lawyers have extensive experience working on coverage issues for environmental and toxic tort claims, often obtaining coverage where the client may not be aware that it has coverage.

Representative Matters

Our lawyers have extensive experience in defending mass tort claims. Among them:

  • Defending an aerospace company in 21 related lawsuits, including two putative class actions with over 10,000 alleged class members, involving allegations that contamination from the defendant company has spread to a residential area and caused a pediatric cancer cluster and decreased property values.
  • Defended toxic tort class action brought by former governor of Florida and children in rural community alleging that major agricultural business had poisoned the air and water with use of certain chemicals and agricultural practices. We defended the case on the merits, and obtained dismissal of all claims on preemption grounds.
  • Defended largest utility in Florida in a federal court environmental injunction case seeking to prevent construction of $900 million power plant, alleging environmental and toxic repercussions, pollution, and medical impacts to surrounding area. After trial regarding the environmental impacts, the Court denied the injunction.
  • Defended manufacturer of fungicide Benlate in dozens of lawsuits alleging business loss and personal injury. Several claims were tried to juries, including one five-month jury trial resulting in defense jury verdict.
  • Defending agricultural business in wrongful death lawsuit brought on behalf of former environmental and safety employee who was allegedly driven to suicide by his concerns about alleged environmental malfeasance by the company. The defense of the case included a defense of all of the nested toxic tort allegations. The defendant prevailed when the case was dismissed during the jury trial.
  • Defended Florida’s largest land owner in class action regarding alleged contamination and pollution of land from paper mill waste products. The result was denial of class certification, which effectively ended the case.
  • Represented clients in toxic tort insurance coverage disputes in many cases, including cases involving alleged contamination with chromated cooper arsenate, a chemical used to pressure treat wood, cases involving a Fortune 100 computer manufacturer in “clean room” cases in which employees claimed birth defects and other illnesses caused by their exposure to chemicals used in the processing of the computer chips, and in many other cases involving insurance coverage for environmental contaminants.
  • Our lawyers have worked on complex product liability cases for decades, including years representing the manufacturer of one of the “Fen-Phen” drugs in thousands of cases in Florida, in which we won summary judgments in the lead cases. Gunster represented the manufacturer in over 60 cases in Florida involving a medical product used in gynecological surgery for women.

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