Celeste Evangelisti has devoted almost two decades of her career to representing individuals, municipalities and public water suppliers who seek to recover costs to clean up contamination from the companies responsible – those who put dangerous products into the stream of commerce without ensuring they will not cause extensive environmental contamination. A shareholder with Baron & Budd’s Environmental Litigation Group, Celeste currently represents plaintiffs in several states across the country who face a variety of contamination issues.
Celeste is a well-known figure in national litigation arising from contamination caused by the gasoline additive Methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE), having been among the first lawyers to litigate cases against oil refiners who blended MTBE into gasoline.
Celeste started her career at a large defense firm, representing some of the biggest corporations in the world in product liability cases. In 1999, Celeste used the knowledge she gained representing defendants in those cases and began working with Scott Summy, who represented corporate victims of wrongdoing. Scott was then expanding his groundwater contamination practice to California and other states. Mr. Summy brought his team to Baron & Budd in 2002, ultimately forming and expanding what is now the Environmental Litigation Group. Throughout the years, Celeste has assisted in the representation of over 150 water providers in MTBE cases.
Celeste’s knowledge and skill have been put to work in many other water contamination cases as well, including those involving perchloroethylene (PCE), Trichloropropane (TCP) and Atrazine. Celeste recently began working on the firm’s PCBs-in-schools cases, which inspire her every day. “I can’t imagine a more important cause than to protect the nation’s children,” she says.
Hard-driving and tenacious, Celeste’s legal prowess has earned her many professional honors and awards. Celeste is AV-rated by Martindale-Hubbell, its top rating. She was a member of the legal team representing Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) which was named “Attorneys of the Year” for Environmental Law in 2001 by California Lawyer (Daily Journal Corp.) for the resolution of a precedent-setting case requiring major oil companies to clean up more than a thousand sites contaminated by the gasoline additive MTBE. Celeste has been nominated twice for Public Justice’s prestigious “Trial Lawyer of the Year” award (2009, 2013) for her work on MTBE and Atrazine respectively, and she was named a “Texas Super Lawyer” for three straight years (Thompson Reuters, 2003-2005).
Ms. Evangelisti has been a frequent speaker and presenter on legal topics concerning the prosecution of water contamination cases involving the gasoline additive MTBE and other contaminants of concern. “The lengths some polluters will go to increase their profits at the expense of the well-being of entire communities never ceases to amaze me,” she says. “It is ultimately very satisfying to bring these companies to justice and protect the environmental integrity of our water supplies.”
“How to Work Up an MTBE Case – Documents and Depositions,” MTBE Multi-District Litigation PSC Group (March 15, 2005).
“Pursuit of Damages by Municipal Water Providers and Private Well Owners,” Mealey’s MTBE & USTs Litigation Conference (December 6, 2004).
“MTBE: The Plaintiffs’ Perspective,” Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel (July 29, 2004).
“Perchlorate in Ground Water: Legal Implications,” American Ground Water Trust (February 9, 2004).
“Perchlorate: The Blast that Lasts,” 11th Annual Region 9 Tribal EPA Conference (October 23, 2003).
“Discovery Issues: What are your looking for? What are you going to find?” Mealey’s MTBE and USTs Litigation Conference (November 4-5, 2002).
“MTBE: What the Public’s Representatives Should Know,” Twelfth Annual Texas Environmental Superconference (August 2, 2000).
“Update on Class Actions,” Mealey’s MTBE Conference (May 11-12, 2000).