SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP announced today it will renew its focus on environmental law with a dedicated environmental practice area devoted to litigating major environmental cases. The efforts will allow Hagens Berman to double-down on its promise to stand up for the environment by adding three esteemed environmental litigators to the firm’s national legal team of more than 70 attorneys.
The 24-year veteran firm to the plaintiffs’ litigation scene welcomes Matthew Pawa, Benjamin Krass and Wesley Kelman formerly of Pawa Law Group, P.C. of Boston, trailblazers in this new and important area of environmental liability. Hagens Berman has represented clients against Exxon Mobil affected by the Exxon Valdez oil spill, stopped Dole from degrading drinking water in Guatemala, reigned in air pollution from grass farmers in Idaho and is currently fighting against a surge of dirty diesel cars illegally put on highways by the nation’s largest automakers.
“Environmental law has always been an important part of Hagens Berman’s mission statement, and this step ensures that our firm will be even better positioned to deliver on that promise,” said Steve Berman, co-founder and managing partner of Hagens Berman. “Matt, Ben and Wes bring with them more than a decade of nationally recognized victories for the planet – a track record that helped lay the foundation of global warming law. Our merged effort will be broader and more robust – a dedicated effort that is in dire need as corporations inflict global warming damages on the environment and on the public.”
Hagens Berman’s environmental practice group also will represent government and private clients in a wide range of environmental claims, including toxic contamination of property and cases involving false environmental claims that have misled consumers.
Pawa, Krass and Kelman worked on global warming cases for more than a decade, including two seminal global warming cases – American Electric Power Co. v. Connecticut, 564 U.S. 410 (2011), and Native Village of Kivalina v. ExxonMobil Corp., 696 F.3d 849 (9th Cir. 2012). In Kivalina they worked closely with Steve Berman and his team.
Matt Pawa, who will co-lead with Steve Berman the firm’s newly focused practice area, and his team have extensive experience litigating environmental cases and developed legal strategies to hold fossil fuel companies liable for contributing to global warming. They bring to the firm over a decade of experience representing states in cases involving contamination of groundwater with the toxic gasoline additive MTBE. The team represented New Hampshire for 13 years in an MTBE case against major oil companies that resulted in over $100 million in settlements and a $236 million verdict against Exxon Mobil. They also represent Vermont and Rhode Island in pending MTBE cases.
Keeping Companies in Check
Since Hagens Berman’s founding in 1993, it has sought to work toward one simple goal: to work for the greater good. Hagens Berman has established a nationally recognized environmental litigation practice, having handled several landmark cases in the Northwest, the nation and internationally.
“Part of Hagens Berman’s dedication to its clients and the law is serving as a steward of the environment and providing a voice for those trampled by corporate wrongdoing,” Berman added. “We believe protecting and repairing our environment from damage caused by irresponsible and illegal use is some of the most rewarding work a law firm can do.”
The firm helped secured a multimillion-dollar award representing clients against Exxon Mobil affected by the 10 million gallons of oil spilled off the coast of Alaska by the Exxon Valdez, and also represented various classes of claimants in Prince William Sound and other areas damaged by one of the worst oil spills in United States history. A $5 billion judgment was awarded by a federal jury, and a $98 million settlement was achieved with Alyeska, the oil company consortium that owned the output of the pipeline.
The firm represented the Sierra Club in a challenge to a Forest Service decision to allow commercial development on the southern edge of the Grand Canyon National Park. The trial court enjoined the project. The firm also represented Washington state homeowners in a successful challenge to Washington States Ferries for its fast ferry boats whose introduction was harming shorelines in the Seattle-area Puget Sound region.
In Clayton Laderer v. Dole Food Company, Inc., filed on Nov. 13, 2012, the firm successfully took on Dole alleging that the company misrepresented its commitment to the environment in selling bananas from a Guatemalan banana plantation that did not comport with proper environmental practices.
Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP is a consumer-rights class-action law firm with offices in 10 cities. The firm has been named to the National Law Journal’s Plaintiffs’ Hot List eight times. More about the law firm and its successes can be found at www.hbsslaw.com. Follow the firm for updates and news at @ClassActionLaw.