Leader of the Environmental Litigation Group (ELG) at Baron & Budd. ELG was started by Mr. Summy in 2002 and is comprised of 30 attorneys and support professionals who concentrate in large environmental litigation across the country. In 2020, Law360 recognized ELG as one of its highly prestigious Practice Groups of the Year awards for the United States in the category of Environmental Law.
Mr. Summy has served both in court-appointed leadership positions and directly represented clients in some of the country’s largest environmental cases with national significance. It all began with a single phone call in August 1995 when Mr. Summy was a new lawyer. He received a call from a prospective client in North Carolina who had learned that he and his neighbors had been ingesting the chemical MTBE in their drinking water wells for years. Mr. Summy took the case, and after years of fighting for the residents’ rights and going to trial, the case resulted in a record settlement.
Mr. Summy soon learned that MTBE was contaminating drinking water wells all over America. That case proved to be only the first of many to come. Mr. Summy was hired by public water providers all over the country whose residents had contaminated wells. He became the “go to” lawyer for public entities facing environmental contamination which impacted their public resources. Mr. Summy has represented public entities from the east coast to the west coast and all across middle America. He and his ELG Team have recovered billions of dollars on behalf of their clients in environmental litigation.
These cases focus on the importance of stormwater and the waterbodies where stormwater drains. ELG represents multiple public entities that have sued Monsanto for the effects of legacy contamination from PCBs. Municipal public entities have expended monies to lower the levels of PCBs from their stormwater systems. States are dealing with the effects of PCBs on precious natural resources as those resources are impacted by PCBs due to contaminated stormwater being released into waterbodies and negatively impacting the sea life there. Monsanto knew about the toxic effects of PCBs decades ago. It also acknowledged that its product had reached the status of “global contaminant.” These lawsuits are filed in multiple jurisdictions and are the first product liability tort cases in America to deal with stormwater. The Group has filed lawsuits on behalf of the Cities of Baltimore, Berkeley, Chula Vista, Long Beach, Oakland, Portland, San Diego, San Jose, Seattle, Spokane and Tacoma; the Port of Portland; Counties of Baltimore and Los Angeles; District of Columbia and the States of Washington and New Mexico due to PCB contamination.
Mr. Summy represented more than 200 public water providers (e.g., municipalities, water districts, utilities, and school districts) and private well owners whose water was contaminated by MTBE and/or TBA. Many of these cases were consolidated in an MDL where Mr. Summy was appointed Co-Lead Counsel and a member of the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee. On behalf of these clients, Mr. Summy sought cost recovery for treatment facilities, operation and maintenance costs, out-of-pocket expenses, and administrative costs. Settlements in these cases totaled over $1 billion dollars. A settlement of particular note was for the City of Santa Monica, which was valued by the Court at $315.5 million. Mr. Summy currently represents the State of Rhode Island in MTBE litigation.
Mr. Summy also represented all public water providers in the United States whose water was contaminated with atrazine, a common agricultural chemical used on corn and other crops. On behalf of these water providers, the Group brought claims against Syngenta, the company that makes atrazine and was aware that its normal use caused drinking water contamination. Mr. Summy negotiated a settlement awarding $105 million to more than 2,000 water providers. Mr. Summy served as Co-Lead/Class Counsel appointed by the Court on behalf of all class members.
Mr. Summy and ELG currently represent more than 20 public entities in litigation resulting from the devastating 2015, 2017 and 2018 California wildfires. The firm also represents hundreds of individuals and businesses. These fires were caused by the electrical utilities’ failure to recognize permanent alterations in weather patterns caused by climate change. The utilities also failed to maintain their equipment and to adequately trim foliage surrounding their equipment. The cases are pending in four consolidated pieces of litigation – two in the North: Northern California Fires, JCCP 4955 and Camp Fire Cases, JCCP 4995; and two others in the South: Southern California Fires, JCCP 4965 and Woolsey Fires, JCCP 5000. Mr. Summy currently serves, along with Baron & Budd shareholder John Fiske, as Co-Lead Counsel for the public entities in Southern California and Woolsey Fire JCCPs. He was also appointed as Co-Lead Counsel for the public entities in the Northern California JCCP prior to PG&E filing bankruptcy. Those cases are now pending in the bankruptcy court.
Mr. Summy recently reached a tentative settlement for the Northern California Public Entities for $1 billion. The clients include Butte County, Butte-Glenn Community College District, City of Chico, City of Clearlake, City of Cloverdale, Lake County, Mendocino County, City of Napa, Napa County, Nevada County, City of Santa Rosa, Paradise Recreation & Park District, Sonoma County, Thermalito Water and Sewer District, Town of Paradise, Town of Windsor and Yuba County.
He previously settled cases on behalf of several public entities for damages suffered as a result of the Butte Fire. Those entities include Calaveras County, Calaveras County Water District, Ebbetts Pass Fire District, San Andreas Fire District and West Point Fire District.
Mr. Summy also secured a $360 million settlement from Southern California Edison on behalf of 23 public entities for taxpayer losses caused by the 2017 Thomas Fire, the 2018 Montecito Debris Flows, and the 2018 Woolsey Fire. These clients include Carpinteria-Summerland Fire Protection District, City of Agoura Hills, City of Calabasas, City of Hidden Hills, City of Malibu, City of Santa Barbara, City of Thousand Oaks, City of Ventura, City of Westlake Village, Conejo Valley Recreation and Park District, Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency, Los Angeles County, Los Angeles County Consolidated Fire Protection District, Los Angeles County Flood Control District, Montecito Water Protection District, Montecito Fire Protection District, Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District, Santa Barbara County and several related agencies and Ventura County and several related agencies.
In addition to public entities, Mr. Summy represents thousands of families and businesses who lost everything due to the negligent maintenance, inspection, and operations of these investor-owned utilities.
AFFF MDL – Mr. Summy was recently appointed as Co-Lead Counsel by the court in AFFF MDL No. 2873 pending in federal district court in South Carolina. This litigation focuses on PFAS contamination to the environment by its use in fire foam. The litigation focuses on the manufacturers of AFFF and PFAS and seeks damages for extensive contamination. This is the hottest environmental issue in the United States presently. Mr. Summy represents numerous public entities in the MDL. They include Bakman Water Company, California Water Service Company, City of Lauderhill, City of Pensacola, City of San Jose, City of Sioux Falls, Coraopolis Water & Sewer Authority, Emerald Coast Utilities Authority, England Economic and Industrial Development, Lakefront Management Authority, Sioux Falls Airport Authority, South Adams County Water and Sanitation District, Town of Ayer, Town of Barnstable, Town of Danvers and Town of Maysville.
Mr. Summy is also serving as Co-Chair of the General Liability Discovery Committee and the Science Committee. Baron & Budd Shareholder Carla Burke is also serving as Co-Chair of the Law and Briefing Committee.
GEN-X – Mr. Summy and the Group are currently seeking relief on behalf of public water providers and individuals against E. I. du Pont de Nemours and The Chemours Company for decades-long contamination of the Cape Fear River, along with the air and groundwater near the Fayetteville, North Carolina plant from Gen-X compounds and dozens of other per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in the PFAS chemical family. For 35 years, DuPont and Chemours have contaminated the river and more than a hundred private wells around their plant. Mr. Summy and the Group represent Brunswick County, the Town of Wrightsville Beach, and the Lower Cape Fear Water & Sewer Authority as they seek to recover the costs of removing all PFAS chemicals before the water is distributed to the public. The Group also represents the owners of most of the private wells around the plant that have been contaminated, and is seeking damages for well filtration, all costs associated with filtration, and property damage. This case is of national significance as focus has shifted to the prevalence of PFAS chemicals across the country.
Gulf Oil Spill
Mr. Summy’s experience with environmental litigation led to a leadership role in the litigation arising from the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. In 2010, he was appointed to the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee and Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee in the Gulf Oil Spill Multi-District Litigation in the Eastern District of Louisiana. In that capacity, he played a critical role in negotiating a settlement and claim procedure for the tens of thousands of individuals, businesses, and governmental entities injured by the oil spill. To date, the value of this settlement is estimated to exceed $14 billion. Mr. Summy and the Group also represented hundreds of businesses with claims against BP and have recovered in excess of $100 million on behalf of these clients.
Mr. Summy also represented a number of public entities who sustained loss of tax revenue due to the oil spill and assisted in the recovery of their significant damages. These entities include City of Anna Maria, City of Bristol, City of Holmes Beach, City of Marathon, City of Monticello, City of Niceville, City of Palmetto, City of Pensacola, City of St. Marks, City of Tallahassee, Collier County, Escambia County, Jackson County, Jefferson County, Lee County, Leon County, Manatee County, Monroe County, Okaloosa Gas District, Pensacola Downtown Improvement Board, Santa Rosa County, School Board of Calhoun County, School Board of Escambia County, School Board of Jefferson County, School Board of Leon County, School Board of Martin County, School Board of Miami-Dade County, School Board of Monroe County, School Board of Palm Beach County, School Board of Polk County, School Board of Santa Rosa County, School Board of Volusia County, School Board of Wakulla County, Town of White Springs, Village of Islamorada, and Wakulla County.
Mr. Summy and the Group were involved in developing successful product liability theories against the makers of nematicides applied to crops in California. These nematicides contained the scavenger chemical 1,2,3TCP. Over the last decade, Mr. Summy and the Group have represented many California public entities whose public drinking water wells were impacted by TCP. The public entities represented include California Water Services, City of Bakersfield, City of Delano, City of Livingston, City of Oceanside, City of Shafter, City of Wasco, Lamont Public Utility District and Montara Water & Sanitary District. Results to date exceed $200 million. The group currently represents San Joaquin County in their litigation.
Santa Barbara Oil Spill
Mr. Summy represented the City of Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara County against Plains All-American Pipeline. The company’s pipeline ruptured, spilling oil in the vicinity of Santa Barbara residents and the Pacific Ocean. These cases were successfully resolved.
Coal Ash – Duke Energy
Mr. Summy and the Group were part of the team that successfully resolved litigation for residents living nearby Duke Energy Coal Ash ponds. Chemicals have leaked from these ponds and contaminated drinking water wells with hexavalent chromium and other dangerous chemicals.
Mr. Summy regularly presents at both legal and environmental seminars. Of note, in 2003, Mr. Summy was invited to present at a seminar to discuss American Indian Tribal Concerns regarding Perchlorate contamination in the Colorado River. Mr. Summy’s presentations include the following:
- California Coast Chapter of ABOTA: “Wildfire Litigation Spreads to Mass Tort” (February 21, 2018)
- 360 Advocacy, Damages: Go Big, Always Go Big, “Many Ways to Go Big – A Different Perspective on Environmental Cases.” (June 12-14, 2016)
- ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources, 21st Fall Conference, Water, Wind, Waste, and More: Navigating New Tides in Environment, Energy and Resource Regulation “Low Dose Litigation ‘The Plaintiff’s Perspective,’” (October 9-12, 2013)
- “BP Oil Spill Litigation Update,” Energy Accounting and Technology Conference, University of New Orleans, May 15, 2012
- Mass Torts Seminar – Deepwater Horizon/BP Spill, Status of MDL, April 20th Deadline and Status of Scientific Experts (April 13-15, 2011)
- HB Litigation Conferences – Oil in the Gulf: Litigation & Insurance Litigation Coverage Conference, “National Survey of Cases Filed to Date & Coordinating State and Federal Cases,” (June 24-25, 2010)
- 360 Advocacy Institute – Gulf Coast Disaster: Representing the Plaintiffs – Individuals to Institutions, “Back to the Future – Limitations of Shipowners’ Liability Act of 1851 (46 U.S.C. § 30505),” (May 20-21, 2010)
- Ohio Section – AWWA – 9th Annual Safe Drinking Water Act Seminar, “Atrazine Litigation: Recovering the Costs of Treatment,” (November 17, 2005)
- Speaker, “Update on MTBE Litigation,” 4th Annual Energy Litigation Conference, October 19, 2005
- 2005 International Municipal Lawyers Association Annual Conference, “Representing Public Water Providers in Water Contamination Cases,” (September 26, 2005)
- Ohio Section – AWWA Conference, “Atrazine Litigation: Recovering the Costs of Treatment,” (September 21, 2005)
- 2005 National Ground Water Association Ground Water Summit, “Emerging Contaminants, MTBE and Their Impact on America’s Water Supply,” (April 18, 2005)
- 2004 Mealey’s MTBE and USTs Litigation Conference, “Lessons Learned in the Settlement and/or Trial of MTBE Cases,” (December 7,2004)
- 2004 Page Keeton Civil Trial Conference, “Representing Water Providers in Environmental Litigation,” (October 28, 2004)
- California Nevada Section – American Water Works Association, “Perchlorate – The Blast That Lasts,” (October 13, 2004)
- International Municipal Lawyers Association, “Emerging Contaminants,” (October 5, 2004).
- 2004 NGWA Groundwater and Environmental Law Conference, “The 2003 Federal Energy Bill and MTBE Liability Protection: If You Fail in Court You Can Win in Congress” (May 5-6, 2004)
- “Expert Witnesses,” Guest Lecturer, Saint Louis University Law School (September 25, 2004)
- American Ground Water Trust, “Perchlorate in America’s Ground Water” (May 3, 2004)
- Investigation and Remediation of Dry Cleaner Release Sites – Groundwater Resources Assn., “PCE – The Groundwater Contamination Problem: Who Should Pay to Clean Their Waste From Our Water?”, Sacramento, CA (April 7, 2004)
- United States Composting Council 12th Annual Conference (January 25-28, 2004)
- International Municipal Lawyers Association, “Protecting Your Drinking Water: MTBE Detects? The Solution to MTBE Pollution” (October 12 – 15, 2003)
- Tribal Concerns – Perchlorate Contamination Conference, “How Do We Pay The Costs of Restoration?” (September 10, 2003)
- United States Composting Council 11th Annual Conference (January 28-30, 2003)
- Mealey’s MTBE & USTs Litigation Conference (Co-Chairman, November 4-5, 2002).
- Mealey’s MTBE Litigation Conference 2001 (May 10-11, 2001)
- American Bar Association Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources 30th Annual Conference on Environmental Law (March 8-11, 2001)
- Speaker, “Plaintiff, Defense and Expert Perspectives,” Mealey’s Toxic Tort Conference, April 17-18, 2000
- Mealey’s MTBE Conference (May 11-12, 2000)
- Mealey’s Toxic Tort Conference: Plaintiff, Defense and Expert Perspectives (April 17-18, 2000)
- Mealey’s Emerging Toxic Torts, “UST and MTBE Litigation Conference” (Co-Chairman, November 15, 1999)
Mr. Summy has published articles regarding the legal aspects of handling cases involving chemicals that impact his clients. In 2003, Mr. Summy’s MTBE water clients were placed at tremendous risk when the “MTBE Liability Waiver” provision was added to the proposed Energy Bill coming out of the Legislature’s Conference Committee. The MTBE Liability Waiver would have stripped Mr. Summy’s MTBE water clients of their rights to pursue the major oil companies under a products liability cause of action. Mr. Summy attempted to assist his clients by criticizing the controversial provision. These are cited as follows:
- “Unnatural Disasters” American Association of Justice – Trial Magazine, January 2019. Co-authored with John Fiske.
- “Poison In The Well” American Association of Justice – Trial Magazine, August 2016. Co-authored with John Fiske and Carla Burke Pickrel
- “Managing Claims Arising From the Gulf Coast Oil Spill: Multidistrict Litigation v. the $20 Billion Fund,” in TXLR, Vol. 25, # 26, July 8, 2010
- “The Legal Challenges and Ramifications of Gulf Oil Spill,” Aspatore Special Report – Understanding the BP Oil Spill and Resulting Litigation – An In-Depth Look at the History of Oil Pollution and the Impact of the Gulf Oil Coast Disaster, 2010; Also appeared in West’s 2010 Gulf Coast Oil Disaster – Litigation and Liability, October 2010
- “Cities May Lose Rights to Pursue Oil Companies for MTBE Contamination,” New Jersey Conference of Mayors, February 2004
- One article authored by Mr. Summy was picked up by legal journals and mainstream publications in 124 instances in 15 states with a readership total of 4,434,256. This article was entitled, “Should the Public Pay for the Oil Industry’s Mistake? 2003
- “’Fuel Safe Harbor’ Provision Grants Immunity to MTBE Manufacturers,” New Jersey Law Journal, Vol. CLXXIV – No. 3 – Index 237, October 20, 2003
- “MTBE Immunity Provision A Bad Idea,” Texas Lawyer, October 13, 2003
- He also co-authored an article entitled, “The Texas Residential Construction Liability Act: Framework for Change.” It appeared in the Texas Tech Law Review, 27 Texas Tech Law Review 1 – 31 (1996)
- In Re Oil Spill by the Oil Rig “Deepwater Horizon” in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, MDL 2179
- In re Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (“MTBE”) Products Liability Litigation, 175 F. Supp.2d 593 (S.D.N.Y. 2001).
- Ashcraft v. Conoco, Inc., 218 F.3d 282 (4th Cir. 2000).
- Ashcraft v. Conoco, Inc., 218 F.3d 288 (4th Cir. 2000).
- Hartford Ins. Co. v. Commerce & Industry Ins. Co., 864 S.W.2d 648 (Tex. App. — Houston [1st Dist.] 1993, writ denied).
- Sherwin-Williams Co. v. Trinity Contractors, Inc., 852 S.W.2d 37 (Tex. App. – Waco 1993, writ denied).
Texas Tech University School of Law (J.D. 1990)
- Phi Delta Phi
- Board of Barristers
- John Marshall Moot Court Team
- National Moot Court Team
- Recipient: American Jurisprudence Award for Appellate Advocacy
Tarleton State University (B.A. 1986, cum laude)
Bar & Court Admissions
Mr. Summy is frequently allowed to practice in states all over the country by applying for admission “pro hac vice.” This allows Mr. Summy to handle individual water cases in numerous states. Mr. Summy is licensed in the following states and courts:
Supreme Court of Texas
All State Courts in Texas
Federal Eastern District of Texas
Federal Northern District of Texas
Federal Southern District of Texas
Federal Western District of Texas
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
Supreme Court of North Carolina
All State Courts in North Carolina
All State Courts in New York
Federal Northern District of Indiana
Federal Southern District of Illinois
Superior Court of the State of California, County of Contra Costa
Law360 – Practice Group of the Year – Environmental Law category (2020)
9-Figure Litigator (America’s High Stakes Trial Lawyers, 2020)
Selected as a Fellow of the American Bar Association (2019)
Selected to America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators (2018 – 2020)
Selected to be included in the National Trial Lawyer – Top 10 Environmental Trial Lawyers Association (2018)
Selected to be named to the National Law Journal’s Plaintiff’s Lawyers Trailblazer List
Recognized as a “recommended” attorney in Baron & Budd’s selection to the Legal 500 List (2017)
Selected as one of the “Premier 20 Over 20” trial attorneys for Texas for The National Academy of Jurisprudence (2017)
America’s Top 100 Attorneys – Lifetime Achievement Award
Selected as one of the Premier 100 Trial Attorneys for The National Academy of Jurisprudence (2016)
Legacy Award Winner for Civility and Integrity – Tarleton State University 2016
Winner of the prestigious Burton Award for “Poisoning the Well,” Trial Magazine (August 2016)
Selected as Top 10 Environmental Trial Lawyer’s Association National Trial Lawyer Magazine
2016 Best Lawyers – “Lawyer of the Year” Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions (Dallas/Ft. Worth)
Best Lawyers in America in Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions – 16 years running
Selected by Benchmark Litigation as a “Local Litigation Star” in Texas 2014 edition
Selected as Texas Super Lawyer – 12 consecutive years
Selected by Texas Monthly to be included in “Super Lawyers Business Edition” (inaugural publication)
Selected to be included as a 2013 Top Rated Lawyer in Energy, Environmental, & Natural Resources in the April issue of The American Lawyer & Corporate Counsel magazine
Two Time Finalist for the Prestigious national Public Justice Trial Lawyer of the Year Award (2009, 2013)
Recognized as a “highly recommended” attorney in Baron & Budd’s selection to the Legal 500 List (2012)
Selected by Benchmark Litigation, the Guide to America’s Leading Litigation Firms and Attorneys, as a Leading Plaintiffs Star in Texas (2012)
Selected as one of “The American Trial Lawyers Association’s Top 100 Trial Lawyers for Texas – 2008-2009”
Selected to be included in Lawdragon, 500 Leading Attorneys in the U.S. (2009 edition)
Selected as one of “The American Trial Lawyers Association’s Top 100 Trial Lawyers for Texas 2008”
Best Lawyers Under 40 in Dallas (D Magazine, 2004)
Selected by D Magazine as one of the “Best Lawyers in Dallas” (4 years)
California Lawyer Magazine Trial Lawyer of the Year Award (CLAY) for Environmental Law – MTBE Litigation 2001
Mr. Summy is actively involved in organizations that are important to his clients, public and private well owners. He was selected in 2003 to become a member of the Board of Directors for the nationally acclaimed Western Environmental Law Center. Organizations in which Summy actively participates are as follows:
American Water Works Association (AWWA)
Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA)
National Association of Water Companies (NAWC)
Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA)
American Ground Water Trust
Western Environmental Law Center – Advisory Council (2003 – 2005)
American Association for Justice (Co-Chair Gulf Coast Oil Spill Litigation Section; Environmental Law Section; Interim Co-Chair – Wildfire Litigation Group)
State Bar of Texas
Public Justice – Board of Directors (2008 – 2011)
Environmental Law Section – State Bar of Texas
State Bar of North Carolina
International Municipal Lawyers Association (IMLA)
Fellow of Dallas Bar Association
Texas Trial Lawyers Association
State Bar of New York
Mass Tort Trial Lawyers Association
The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyers
National Academy of Jurisprudence
Consumer Attorneys of San Diego
Fellow of the American Bar Association
Mr. Summy is AV Preeminent rated by Martindale-Hubble
Supreme Court Youth Organization (Founder and President)
Texas Tech Law School Foundation (Board of Trustees)
Mr. Summy has endowed a Pre-Law Scholarship in his namesake at his alma mater, Tarleton State University