Toxic Torts

For more than 25 years, Troutman Sanders has litigated toxic tort cases involving personal injury, property damage and medical monitoring. Additionally, we handle a wide range of innovative claims such as “cancerphobia,” “increased risk of disease” and “public nuisance.”

Our attorneys have experience dealing with cases associated with substances such as arsenic, asbestos, chromium, diesel exhaust, dioxin, mold, coal tar, mercury, PCBs, lead, poly-aromatic hydrocarbons, solvents and vinyl chloride. We have deep knowledge of federal and state environmental statutes, and litigate under the following:

  • Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)
  • Clean Water Act (CWA)
  • Clean Air Act (CAA)
  • Surface Mining Reclamation Act (SMCRA)
  • Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)
  • Federal Insecticide, Fungicidem and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA)

As one illustration, for the past 10 years, we have been representing the City of Ft. Lauderdale in a series of major cases, including a putative class action involving personal injury. In Hinton v. City of Fort Lauderdale, and Adderley v. City of Fort Lauderdale, both in Florida state court, we are representing the city in individual and putative class actions arising out of alleged exposures to arsenic, dioxin, benzo(a)pyrene, lead and poly-aromatic hydrocarbons following closure of a municipal incinerator. We obtained one of the first Lone Pine orders in Florida structuring case management to occur such that plaintiffs were required to put forth early evidence of causation and expert testimony.

For our industrial clients, we have handled many toxic tort cases. We were lead trial counsel for E.I. duPont DeNemours in a toxic tort suit in which the plaintiff claimed blindness from exposure to lacquer thinner. Ultimately, we prevailed on a statute of limitations defense, and the actionable exposure claim was limited to one day. In other cases, we obtained summary judgment based on lack of causation. In Jordan v. Georgia Power Co., a case covered extensively in the press, we tried one of the first jury trials where plaintiffs alleged their children’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was caused by electromagnetic fields from transmission lines. In other cases, we have defended utilities in claims that coal-fired power plants emitted mercury which caused autism. For a major commercial REIT, we defended a case brought in federal court by a tenant who claimed her son’s learning deficiencies were caused by lead-based paint exposures and alleging violations of the Residential Lead Based Paint Hazards Reduction Act.

We have also worked on numerous smaller, more traditional toxic tort cases. We have represented numerous property owners in property dimunition claims from groundwater contamination. In several states, we have represented governmental entities sued on toxic exposure cases. For instance, we represented the State of Florida on a major mold exposure case, where we were brought in to develop research on the standard of care for remediating mold in an elementary school. We also represented several counties and cities on claims that groundwater and air emissions at municipal solid waste landfills caused personal injuries and property devaluation. The vast majority of these were dismissed or settled after the court found insufficient evidence for plaintiffs’ causation claims.

We have not only distinguished ourselves before trial courts in cases involving personal injury and toxic tort claims, we have also prosecuted successful appeals in these areas. In Evans v. Walter Indus., we successfully obtained remand of a case involving prolonged alleged exposure to waste substances from an industry to state court under the Class Action Fairness Act.

  • Defending manufacturers of asbestos-containing products and respiratory devices as well as premises owners in thousands of claims in the Midwest and throughout the Southeast.
  • Defending a major railroad in claims of toxic exposure to asbestos, diesel fumes, solvents and silica. Also defended claims of industrial exposure, including hearing loss and carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Defending a major chemical company in multi-plaintiff toxic-tort claims involving air emissions.
  • Defending a major petroleum company in claims alleging leaks from underground storage tanks in retail gasoline stations.
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