Long before there was widespread public concern about water pollution, Baron & Budd was at the forefront of water pollution cases. The firm first became involved in a TCE groundwater contamination case in Tucson in the 1980s and fought for more than 20 years to achieve a positive outcome for the people of Tucson. Today, the firm continues its legacy of protecting our water supply and is heavily involved in the litigation surrounding the 2010 Gulf oil spill.
Landmark $420 Million MTBE Settlement
In 2008, Baron & Budd helped successfully negotiate a landmark settlement on behalf of more than 150 public water systems in 17 states whose groundwater was contaminated by MTBE. Scott Summy, head of the firm’s water contamination litigation section, served as co-lead counsel and treasurer of the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee (PSC) in the MTBE multi-district litigation (MDL).
In 2009, the team of attorneys who were involved in the MTBE litigation was recognized as finalists for the “Trial Lawyer of the Year” award, an annual award given by Public Justice, a non-profit legal organization, for an attorney’s contribution to the public interest.
Settlement for City of Santa Monica MTBE Contamination
In 2003, the firm represented the city of Santa Monica against several major oil companies in an MTBE water contamination case. MTBE had contaminated five of Santa Monica’s eleven water wells, forcing the city to import clean water.
The settlement paid by the oil companies provided funds for the city to build a water treatment system to clean the MTBE from its water supply, to continue buying water until its own supply was clean, and to monitor groundwater quality during and after cleanup.
Cleanup of Groundwater Contamination in California
In 2004, shareholders Scott Summy and Laura Baughman negotiated settlements on behalf of Communities for a Better Environment, a California non-profit. The settlements forced several major oil companies to upgrade gas stations, clean up groundwater contamination and take steps to prevent gasoline leaking from more than a thousand storage tanks in California.
Atrazine Contamination Settlement
In 2012, Baron & Budd served as co-lead counsel in a class action lawsuit settlement in a case involving atrazine contamination of surface water. In the first class action settlement of its kind in the United States, the firm helped negotiate a significant settlement for public water providers throughout the Midwest region of the U.S. against atrazine manufacturer and distributor Syngenta AG.
Gulf Oil Spill National Role
Baron & Budd has a leadership role in national negotiations with all of the defendants in the Gulf oil spill. In 2010, Baron & Budd shareholder Scott Summy was appointed to the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee and Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee in the Gulf Oil Spill Multi-District Litigation. Summy, head of the firm’s water contamination team, was one of only four attorneys nationwide selected to serve on the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee.
Also in 2010, environmental attorney and shareholder Burton LeBlanc and Baron & Budd were retained by the State of Louisiana to provide counsel to the state’s designated trustees in connection with issues related to the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill.
Twenty Year Legal Battle in Tucson
In 2006, Baron & Budd settled a TCE groundwater contamination case for more than 1,600 Tucson-area residents against an aircraft manufacturer, the Tucson Airport Authority and the City of Tucson. Though the legal battle took more than 20 years of intense work and an enormous investment in upfront resources, Baron and Budd pressed on and ultimately prevailed. The firm’s cutting-edge work on the case helped define Arizona law on water pollution issues.
As a result, the Baron & Budd attorneys who worked on the case were honored with the prestigious “Trial Lawyer of the Year” award from Trial Lawyers for Public Justice.
The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill
Baron & Budd provided pro bono services to Public Justice in the representation of several environmental organizations seeking funds for environmental rehabilitation of the damage caused by the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska. The firm’s efforts helped substantially increase the government’s recovery for environmental damage, and Public Justice awarded the Baron & Budd team its 1993 Public Justice Award for “outstanding contribution to environmental protection and public interest.”