Michael Murphy is a partner in Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher's Washington, D.C. office, and is a member of the firm's Environmental and Natural Resources Practice Group and its Government and Commercial Contracts Practice Group. Mr. Murphy has handled a wide variety of cases under most federal and a number of state environmental statutes, and has handled litigation in a number of state, federal district, and federal appellate courts. In 2010, Mr. Murphy was named by Law360 as one of its five "Rising Star" environmental attorneys under 40 to watch.
Mr. Murphy also has substantial experience handling government contracts litigation matters, including False Claims Act litigation and investigations, bid protests before the GAO and the Court of Federal Claims, and claims before the boards of contract appeals and federal courts on a wide variety of issues from cost allowability disputes to claims of government indemnification.
Mr. Murphy has extensive experience in the following areas:
- CERCLA Litigation
- Environmental Enforcement Defense
- Challenges to Agency Action
- Mass and Toxic Tort Defense
- Government Contracts Litigation
Mr. Murphy graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1999, where he was a member of the Virginia Journal of International Law. He received his Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University in 1993. He also attended the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, receiving a M.Sc. in International Law. Mr. Murphy is a member of the bars of the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) Litigation
Mr. Murphy has represented clients in a variety of CERCLA cost-recovery and contribution actions in a number of jurisdictions. Representative matters include:
- Filing and prosecuting a $250 million CERCLA cost recovery action against the United States based on government involvement at a Cold War-era rocket manufacturing facility in Southern California.
- Filing and prosecuting a $250 million CERCLA action against the United States for its ownership and involvement at a former World War II “Plancor” aircraft component facility in Long Island, New York.
- Investigating and negotiating $50 million CERCLA action against the United States and the U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers at a former Naval Aircraft Station in Rhode Island.
- Defending against CERCLA claim against a client’s former corporate parent to recover response costs at its former facility in Silverbow, MT.
- Filing amicus briefs in Aviall Services and Atlantic Research in the U.S. Supreme Court, and also in related amicus briefs in the U.S. Courts of Appeal for the Seventh and Ninth Circuits.
- Arguing to clarify the relationship between CERCLA’s cost recovery and contribution causes of action before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, who ultimately adopted the position urged by Mr. Murphy. See Kotrous v. Goss-Jewett Co. of N. Cal., 523 F.3d 924 (9th Cir. 2008).
- Defending against a multi-million dollar CERCLA claim brought by the State of Pennsylvania at a former Department of Energy nuclear research facility.
- Defending CERCLA claims brought against various clients at multi-party landfills in several states, including Georgia, New Jersey, and California.
Environmental Enforcement Defense
Mr. Murphy has defended clients in numerous State and Federal enforcement actions, involving a variety of different statutory and regulatory programs. Representative matters include:
- Defending a Department of Energy contractor against a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act enforcement action and related False Claims Act allegations in Kentucky.
- Defending an aerospace industry client in a large CERCLA/RCRA groundwater cleanup action in Southern California.
- Defending municipal clients in a sewer overflow Clean Water Act enforcement action brought by the United States and the State of Ohio, and against related citizen suit actions.
- Defending a national retail company against various criminal and civil investigations involving the handling of hazardous materials under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and the Clean Water Act.
Challenges to Agency Action
Mr. Murphy has represented clients adversely impacted by state and federal agency actions. Representative matters include:
- Successfully challenging EPA’s refusal to disclose groundwater models under the Freedom of Information Act, reported in Goodrich Corporation v. EPA, 593 F.Supp. 2d 184 (D.D.C. 2009).
- Successfully challenging the Department of the Interior’s issuance of a special use permit that violated the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, reported in Trout Unlimited v. U.S. Dep't of Agric., 320 F.Supp. 2d 1090 (D. Colo. 2004), and also successfully defended the district court’s opinion before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. See Trout Unlimited v. U.S. Dep't of Agric, 441 F.3d 1214 (10th Cir. 2006).
- Challenging the State of Maryland’s general discharge permit for large animal feeding operations, which permits poultry farmers to stockpile chicken litter without any cover or protective ground liner in fields for up to ninety days.
Mass and Toxic Tort Defense
Mr. Murphy has defended clients facing a variety of mass tort/toxic tort claims in both State and Federal courts. Representative matters include:
- A “contaminated community” toxic tort case in Federal District court involving allegations of exposure to hexavalent chromium and TCE in air and groundwater.
- A mass tort claim filed in California state court involving more than 800 plaintiffs alleging personal injury and property damage for releases of solvents and ammonium perchlorate from a rocket manufacturing facility.
Government Contracts Litigation
Mr. Murphy has taken part in a wide variety of government contracts related litigation matters. Representative matters include:
- Defending against claims brought by the United States and several qui tam relators alleging violations of the False Claims Act based on the client’s alleged failure to disclose violations of various environmental laws and Department of Energy regulations.
- Defending an international accounting firm during the investigation and eventual settlement of False Claims Act and defective pricing allegations stemming from USAID contracts.
- Representing an aerospace company in an appeal before the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals challenging a penalty for the alleged inclusion of expressly unallowable settlement costs into overhead cost submissions, successfully settling the matter for less than a third of the original penalty assessment.
- Representing an aerospace company in a mediated settlement with the Defense Contract Management Agency over the allowability of executive compensation payments related to a corporate merger.
- Representing several clients before the Government Accounting Office and the Court of Federal Claims in bid protests as both protestor and intervenor, with experience in GAO hearings and arguments before the COFC. For example, the Court of Federal Claims cited arguments made by Mr. Murphy as the primary reason it could support the agency’s decision to override an automatic stay of contract performance following a bid protest. Spherix v. United States, 62 Fed. Cl. 497 (2004).
- Representing an aerospace contractor in a dispute with the Air Force over the indemnification of environmental costs associated with the performance of contracts pursuant to P.L. 85-804, resulting in a submission of a certified claim that was later appealed to the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals.