Pioneers of Environmental & Toxic Exposure Litigation
Seeger Weiss is a national leader in toxic and environmental tort litigation. We represent state and local governments and individual victims in a wide range of environmental cases involving natural resource contamination, and toxic pollution of air, water, and land.
Seeger Weiss’s environmental practice group was formed when Matt Pawa, Ben Krass and Wes Kelman joined the firm in February 2021. Partner Matt Pawa pioneered the use of tort theories against polluters, including as a lead counsel in the groundbreaking climate change cases American Electric Power Co. v. Connecticut and Native Village of Kivalina v. ExxonMobil Corp. Pawa, Krass, and Kelman together have over 60 years of experience litigating environmental cases. Pawa and Krass worked together for 20 years, beginning with the New Hampshire MTBE case they filed in 2003; this lawsuit was the first successful claim by a state against companies for statewide contamination caused by their products and has become the template for the current wave of statewide claims against manufacturers of MTBE, PCBs, and PFAS. The State of New
Hampshire obtained over $100 million in settlements and a jury verdict of $236 million against ExxonMobil, the only non-settling defendant, after a three-month trial. State v. Exxon Mobil Corp., 126 A.3d 266 (N.H. 2015) (affirming verdict). New Hampshire won this verdict after the jury deliberated for 90 minutes. Before the trial, Pawa argued and won three interlocutory appeals to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, including one that established the state’s parens patriae authority to sue for contamination in private drinking water wells throughout the state. See, e.g., State v. Hess Corp., 20 A.3d 212 (N.H. 2011) (sustaining parens patriae authority to seek private well damages). Krass also litigated nearly every aspect of this case for over a decade and handled the trial examination of expert and state witnesses. Kelman was on the briefing team for the case.
Seeger Weiss is involved in some of the most important environmental cases in the country. The firm represents Vermont and Maine in litigation against 3M and DuPont for pollution of the states’ land and water with the PFAS “forever chemicals” and recently helped New Hampshire bring a lawsuit against Monsanto for polluting state waters with PCBs, which resulted in a $25 million settlement in 2022. The firm represents numerous other states and public entities in environmental cases, including PCBs cases on behalf of the City of Burlington (VT), City of Los Angeles, and the state of New Jersey, nine Illinois cities and villages on Lake Michigan, and a natural resource damages case on behalf of the state of New Jersey against The Sherwin-Williams Company for substantial toxic contamination at was once the largest paint manufacturing facility in the world in Gibbsboro, NJ.
Chris Seeger has led some of the most complex, high-profile litigations in the United States, including in toxic torts and product liability cases. Seeger received the most multidistrict litigation (MDL) appointments of any lawyer in the nation between 2016 and 2019, according to a recent ALM study. Stephen Weiss has (among other things) represented relators in some of the nation’s largest and most notable recoveries, including in a case involving a $3 billion recovery against GlaxoSmithKline. David Buchanan focuses on large, national, high-stakes cases, generally destined for trial, where he has obtained multiple jury verdicts in excess of $100 million.
Seeger Weiss has had numerous past successes in environmental litigation. In the Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation, our firm worked in conjunction with United States government agencies, including the EPA, Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice to hold the company accountable. Seeger Weiss served on the plaintiffs’ steering and settlement committees, helping reach a $21 billion corporate settlement that included a massive buyback program for consumers, environmental remediation, and investment in green vehicle technology.
Seeger Weiss’ robust toxic exposure litigation practice helps plaintiffs harmed by exposure to dangerous toxins. In the Chinese‐Manufactured Drywall Products Liability Litigation, Seeger Weiss represented close to 5,000 U.S. property owners against German company Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin, a worldwide distributor of drywall manufactured in China. As Lead Trial Counsel, the firm obtained successful verdicts in a succession of bellwether trials, or test cases, that were part of a multidistrict litigation, leading to a national settlement valued at about $1 billion.
Today, our firm represents veterans, family members, and others stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune who were exposed to water contaminated with toxic chemicals. We also serve those injured by PFAS chemicals, individuals suffering from Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma caused by the herbicide Roundup, and people diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease caused by the herbicide paraquat.