William S. Cox, III

William S. Cox, III (Buddy)



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Birmingham, AL

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  • B.A., Vanderbilt University, 1985 magna cum laude
  • J.D., University of Virginia School of Law, 1988


  • Alabama, 1990
  • California, 1988

For over 25 years, Buddy has assisted a wide variety of clients facing property damage and personal injury lawsuits brought by neighboring residents, administrative claims brought by state and federal regulatory agencies under various environmental statutes and regulations, disputes among persons responsible for clean up costs at numerous remediation sites under the Superfund Act or CERCLA, natural resource damages claims, and opportunities to re-develop potentially contaminated properties. He has also helped numerous clients navigate the complex environmental laws and regulations governing chemical manufacturing facilities, wood treatment facilities, and facilities that generate, treat or dispose of hazardous and solid waste. Buddy has worked on environmental and toxic tort cases throughout the United States. He also worked on behalf of the State of Alabama in a long-running dispute with the United States Army Corps of Engineers over water resources.

Buddy’s jury trials and other cases have ranged from a single plaintiff to several thousand plaintiffs. Whether defending against the claims of thousands or an administrative order of a regulatory agency, Buddy believes it is important to communicate his client’s story. As a result, he often works closely with experts in the fields of toxicology, epidemiology, hydrology, remediation, engineering, and medicine to ensure that complex issues are presented clearly and understandably to judges and juries and to identify weaknesses or gaps in the opposing party’s case.

Relevant Experience:

Environmental and Toxic Tort Litigation – When Neighbors, Neighborhoods, or an Entire City Files Suit.

Buddy’s litigation experience includes representing plaintiffs and defendants in toxic tort and property damage cases involving from as few as one plaintiff to as many as several thousand plaintiffs joined in a single action as well as class actions.  He has worked on cases in Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Florida, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Georgia and the District of Columbia.  Representative matters include:

  • Defending an oil and gas company in a lawsuit alleging property damages from an underground pipeline leak.
  • Defending a chemical manufacture in a series of lawsuits alleging property damage and personal injury from historic releases and waste disposal practices.
  • Defending wood treatment facilities in lawsuits alleging property damage and personal injury from historic releases and disposal practices.
  • Representing individual plaintiffs in property damage claims caused by leaking underground fuel systems, benzene contamination, misapplication of pesticides, and historic releases and waste disposal practices from a manufacturing facility.

Environmental Enforcement – When Federal or State Agencies Knock.

Buddy has assisted numerous companies respond to environmental enforcement actions, claims and litigation by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the United States Department of Justice or state environmental agencies under a variety of federal and state statues and common law.  His experience and knowledge of environmental law has assisted clients in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Texas, Tennessee, Florida, and Pennsylvania.  Representative matters include:

  • Negotiating administrative orders and consent decrees under the federal Superfund law with DOJ and EPA for the clean up of impacted properties.
  • Resolving a natural resource damages claim for injury to a State-listed endangered species from a chemical
  • Defending and prosecuting challenges to permits issued under various environmental statutes
  • Defending and prosecuting citizen suits for alleged violations of environmental statutes

Brownfield Redevelopment – When Contaminated Properties Are Put Back To Use

Buddy has also assisted numerous clients navigate the environmental requirements necessary to put contaminated properties (so-called Brownfields) back to productive use.  He has been involved in projects that required the use of environmental covenants, conservation easements, and a variety of remediation technologies.  Representative matters include:

  • Assisting clients obtain regulatory approval for clean plans plan to convert former industrial properties to commercial and residential uses.
  • Assisting clients negotiate with neighboring property owners to clean up impacted properties or limit the potential exposures to and risks from contamination.

Buddy is an active member of the Birmingham Bar Association, chairing its CLE Committee in 2005 and the Alabama Bar Association, chairing the Environmental Law Section in 2000. He continues to serve on the Executive Committee of the Environmental Law Section. He is also a member of the American Bar Association’s Environment, Energy and Resources and Litigation Sections and the Defense Research Institute. Buddy often speaks to local, state and national groups on a variety of environmental law topics. He was recently listed by The Best Lawyers in America by Woodward White, Inc. 2018 edition for his environmental law and water law practices. Benchmark Litigation selected him as a 2018 Litigation Star while Super Lawyers selected him as a 2017 Mid-South Super Lawyer.

Buddy Cox attended the University of Virginia School of Law where he was a member of the editorial board of the Virginia Law Review and elected to the Order of the Coif. After graduating from the University of Virginia School of Law, Buddy began his environmental and toxic torts practice in San Diego, California with Latham & Watkins. He joined Lightfoot, Franklin & White in 1990 shortly after it was founded and is admitted to practice in all Alabama state and federal courts, the 11th Circuit, the DC Circuit, and United States Supreme Court.

In addition to his law practice, Buddy enjoys spending time with his wife and three children and playing the guitar.

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