Lightfoot Franklin & White

Trial and Appellate Counsel


Environmental and Toxic Torts

In recent years, environmental and toxic tort cases have become significant issues for the financial performance of many companies across the country. In such a climate, leading manufacturers in a broad range of industries have turned to Lightfoot for their litigation needs. Our lawyers have consistently served as lead trial counsel in some of the region's most high-profile cases, including a nineteen-month jury trial for Solutia Inc. and Pharmacia Corporation involving PCB contamination.

Lightfoot has the experience and depth to manage all aspects of complex environmental and toxic tort cases. The range of our experience is extensive, and runs the gamut from single-plaintiff toxic tort cases to class actions and mass joinders involving tens of thousands of plaintiffs. Our lawyers have the knowledge and ability to tackle the toughest scientific and technical issues, and we have worked closely with many of the country's leading medical, scientific and technical experts in defending these kinds of claims.

Lightfoot's attorneys have also assisted clients in a variety of compliance matters and enforcement actions involving state and federal agencies, including matters under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act ("RCRA"), Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act ("CERCLA"), Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act ("FIFRA"), Toxic Substances Control Act ("TSCA"), Clean Water Act ("CWA") and Clean Air Act ("CAA"). We have tried CERCLA cost-recovery actions and natural-resource damage claims, as well as assisted clients with environmental permitting and compliance work.

Lightfoot can handle the day-to-day litigation needs of its environmental and toxic tort clients at a local, regional or national level. Whether it is managing complex document discovery, taking expert depositions or presenting the case to a jury, our environmental and toxic tort litigators have the experience and resources to handle any environmental or toxic tort matter. For example:

  • Lightfoot has represented a number of manufacturers in mass tort actions alleging injuries from exposure to various chemicals, including isocyanates, formaldehyde, creosote, dixoin, and metalworking fluids.
  • Lightfoot has represented numerous clients in asbestos cases alleging that exposure to various products (including friction products, gaskets, packing, and external insulation) caused mesothelioma and other malignancies, including winning numerous cases on summary judgment and successfully defending the results on appeal to the Alabama Supreme Court.
  • Lightfoot has represented the State of Alabama in water-related litigation and negotiations with the United States Army Corps of Engineers and the states of Georgia and Florida for more than 15 years. This has involved working closely with Alabama's Department of Economic and Community Affairs, Department of Environmental Management, Governor's office, and Attorney General's office.
  • Lightfoot represented a number of manufacturers in the paper industry in a series of claims alleging dioxin contamination of major Alabama waterways. This involved individual litigation as well as class action claims.
  • Lightfoot represented a major pigment manufacturer in a series of air contamination cases in Mississippi and has handled a number of smaller claims of air contamination.
  • Lightfoot has handled many cases involving alleged pesticide contamination in Alabama and other Southeastern states. These cases have ranged from crop-damage cases to home-exposure cases to a massive fish kill in an Alabama reservoir related to an insecticide release.
  • In the area of environmental crime, Lightfoot has represented clients in a variety of enforcement and grand jury proceedings brought by federal and state law-enforcement officials.
  • Lightfoot was one of the first firms in the country to try a Benlate case to a defense verdict.
  • In recent years, Lightfoot has been involved in mass tort environmental litigation across the Southeast involving underground contamination in the petroleum industry, the wood-treating industry, the equipment-manufacturing industry, and the fertilizer industry.
  • Lightfoot represented a group of Potentially Responsible Parties in a CERCLA cost-recovery action involving an abandoned lead-smelting facility that was listed on the National Priorities List.
  • Lightfoot represented the defendants in a toxic tort case involving PCB contamination in Anniston, Alabama, which resulted in the largest and longest-running trial in Alabama history. The case involved more than 3,500 plaintiffs, many claiming both personal injury and property damage. The case went before the Alabama Supreme Court on three separate occasions before and during trial, and the jury trial lasted more than 19 months in the Circuit Court of Calhoun County in 2002-2003. Over 500 separate verdicts were returned during the course of the trial, and with 3,000 claims still being tried, the case settled in August 2003 for an amount significantly less than the plaintiffs' pretrial demand of more than $1 billion.
  • Lightfoot has represented several textile manufacturers in environmental litigation involving discharges of treated wastewater.
  • Lightfoot has represented municipalities in environmental permitting and compliance matters involving wastewater treatment systems and solid-waste management facilities.
  • Lightfoot was retained post-verdict to represent two textile manufacturers in a waterway contamination matter which resulted in a verdict of $52,000,000 in favor of numerous property owners. After extensive post-trial proceedings and two appeals to the Alabama Supreme Court, the judgement was reversed and rendered in favor of the defendants. There were remaining cases which settled for $75,000.
  • Lightfoot successfully defended Pharmacia Corporation (f/k/a Monsanto Company) in a personal injury trial in Jefferson County, Alabama. The trial involved the claims of five plaintiffs who alleged that their diabetes or arthritis was caused by exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from a facility formerly owned by Pharmacia in Anniston, Alabama. This trial was the first from among approximately 3,000 state court plaintiffs in 47 separate cases. A federal court case in March 2007 involving two plaintiffs also resulted in a defense verdict.


William S. Cox, III

John M. Johnson

W. Larkin Radney, IV

Lightfoot, Franklin & White, LLC

The Clark Building 400 20th Street North Birmingham, AL 35203
205-581-0700 (phone) 205-581-0799 (facsimile)