The environmental practice at Berliner Cohen is both a litigation and a client counseling practice.  While frequently called upon to represent clients in disputes over such matters as leaking underground storage tanks and soil or groundwater contamination, our environmental attorneys also advise clients on the wide array of environmental issues that arise in real estate transactions where contaminated or potentially contaminated property is involved.  This includes assisting clients in conducting due diligence research on real property, working with environmental consultants to evaluate contamination problems, reviewing and interpreting technical reports prepared by consultants, and drafting provisions within legal documents relating to environmental hazards and risk allocation.

The Firm utilizes the talents of attorneys from the real estate, land use and municipal law groups, as well as the litigation department to serve the legal needs of individuals and businesses facing environmental issues.  Our environmental attorneys are also experienced and adept in representing clients in court or before federal, state, and local regulatory and administrative law tribunals in government-initiated enforcement actions for cost recovery, cost allocation, and civil and criminal penalties.  Finally, we assist clients in obtaining environmental permits in connection with development or redevelopment projects.

Typical of the clients Berliner Cohen represents in environmental issues are public entities, corporations and individuals in the fields of manufacturing, real estate development and construction, food services, auto services, and chemical storage, as well as institutional trustees, owners, operators, and lessors and lessees of commercial real estate. 

Representative cases

  • West Coast Equities Limited Partnership v. Robert P. Coyle, et al.
    Represented ground lessor under 99-year lease in environmental liability action against former subtenants; case settled with defendants agreeing to complete remediation activities satisfactory to client and government enforcement agency
  • Town of Los Gatos, et al. v. PG&E, ConAgra, Inc., et al.
    Successfully defended ConAgra in soil and groundwater contamination cost recovery action involving complex state and local statutes and regulations relating to responsibility for contamination and remediation; achieved settlement satisfactory to client after private mediation
  • Sobrato v. Litronix, et al.
    Successfully defended former tenant of industrial property in federal superfund cost recovery action brought by property owner against tenant, former tenants and neighboring property owners; case involved soil and groundwater contamination by chlorinated solvents; settled to satisfaction of client after lengthy mediation before U.S. Magistrate

For more information, please contact Ralph Swanson at ralph.swanson@berliner.com.