Daniel W. Nelson Washington, D.C.
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Peter E. Seley Washington, D.C.
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The Environmental Litigation and Mass Tort Practice Group has been defending companies against mass toxic tort cases in the United States and around the world for decades. 

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher takes into consideration the enormous potential liability, the factual, scientific and legal complexities, and the experienced plaintiffs' counsel often involved in mass toxic tort cases.  Our lawyers work closely with clients to develop comprehensive strategies sensitive to your priorities and with a focus on opportunities for early defeat or reasonable resolution. 

The practice group maintains an extensive, centralized library of the recurring legal and scientific issues that often arise in these cases.  As a result, we are able to efficiently identify and master the issues that are critical to a successful defense.


The Environmental Litigation and Mass Tort group works closely with clients to protect business interests in large and complex toxic tort cases.  

Recent representations include: 

  • Represented a major food company in a series of toxic tort lawsuits involving thousands of Latin American workers claiming personal injuries from exposure to a chemical used on banana farms.  After an adverse verdict in the first trial in these cases, we were brought in and succeeded in overturning the verdict granting punitive damages.  After this and other successes, obtained a confidential global settlement.
  • Represented a large defense contractor in toxic tort lawsuit involving a putative class of approximately 800 plaintiffs in Southern California, claiming personal injuries, wrongful death, medical monitoring and property damage resulting from alleged exposure to chemicals in drinking water.  Through a series of unparalleled pretrial motions and appellate victories, we obtained complete defense judgments against the first group of 50 plaintiffs selected by their counsel.
  • Representing a large government services company in two toxic tort lawsuits in the Superior Court for the State of California, County of Riverside.  One involves claims by more than 100 plaintiffs alleging personal injury, wrongful death and property damage stemming from alleged vapor intrusion of trichloroethylene and other chemicals.  The other case, styled as a class action, alleges property and stigma damages resulting from the same alleged contamination.  In a related case, Gibson Dunn represented the client in federal litigation to enforce a contractual indemnity provision to require another company to defend and indemnify in the above lawsuits.  Summary judgment in favor of our client was affirmed by the Ninth Circuit.
  • Represented a large petroleum company in defense of toxic tort action brought by community surrounding oil production site in Los Angeles.  Plaintiffs ultimately dropped all claims and dismissed case with prejudice without any payment by the defendant.  Crude oil was the compound of concern.
  • Representing a large petroleum company in defense of toxic tort action in Los Angeles County Superior Court, brought by residential community surrounding plating facility in Los Angeles alleging hexavalent chromium exposure. 
  • Representing Fortune 100 company in defense of toxic tort claims by more than 500 plaintiffs claiming exposure to trichloroethylene (TCE) and tetrachloroethylene (PCE) from manufacturing plant in Asia.
  • Representing a large computer services company in community toxic tort case in the United States District Court of Nebraska.
  • Represented a large university in class action brought by residents of student housing over alleged toxic exposures.  After we defeated class certification, the case was settled for a nominal amount.
  • Represented a large university in property damage and personal injury claims of nearby residents claiming exposure to radiation during nuclear experiments in the 1960s.  Obtained a favorable settlement while summary judgment motion was pending.
  • Represented prominent law firm in $200 million alleged malpractice case brought regarding environmental matters.  The claim, by the Los Angeles Unified School District, was made in connection with the law firm's 10-year representation of the school district over the Belmont High School in downtown Los Angeles.  The school district alleged that the law firm failed to adequately consider the environmental hazards to schoolchildren associated with the location of the school on an oil field.  After a highly publicized report from an independent auditor found that the law firm had mismanaged the school district representation, Gibson Dunn successfully defended the case, obtaining a complete defense win on summary judgment.