Pro Bono Brownfields Deal Closes for Bike Coalition
Long-time bike commuter, Bret Stone, provided pro bono legal support to help the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition purchase the property that houses its community cycling center and DIY bike repair shop. The Brownfields site had been contaminated by historic dry cleaning operations. Stone negotiated the transaction and related environmental protections to a successful close.
John Till Featured at Environmental Law Section Seminar
Paladin Managing Partner, John Till, led a discussion regarding the implementation of AB 440 legislation to redevelop contaminated properties in urban blighted areas. The Sacramento County Bar Association Environmental Law Section underwrote the event.
Paladin Presents at Groundwater Law Conference
Paladin Law Group partner, Bret Stone, joined panels of lawyers, regulators and water utility staff to discuss the latest legal developments in water resources, water rights, water quality, and groundwater contamination. For more information, click here.
Stone Talks AB 440 Strategy in League of Cities Webinar
Bret Stone served on a panel hosted by the California League of Cities to discuss AB 440 and strategies for funding and implementation of this new California law that provides municipalities with broad authority to enforce environmental cleanups.
Summary Judgment Granted in OSHA Enforcement Case
Paladin won an important victory for its keratin hair smoothing product distributor, Keratin Complex, in an enforcement action by the Secretary of Labor. The case involved a citation for a violation that had been previously settled regarding product labeling. Cross-motions for summary judgment were filed. Paladin's motion argued that Keratin Complex's affirmative defenses of res judicata and collateral estoppel barred the Secretary's enforcement action. The judge agreed, denying the Secretary's motion and granting summary judgment in Keratin Complex's favor.
Kristin Larson Profiled by Business Times
The Pacific Coast Business Times wrote a feature story on Kristin Larson's unique background in its December 13, 2013 issue. The article, entitled "Attorney Found Passion for Environmental Law in Antarctica," can be viewed here.
Lycett Featured in Stormwater Webinar
Paladin’s Jon Lycett was a featured speaker for a webinar entitled “Managing Risk Amid Changing Storm Water Regulations.” Topics covered included an exploration of evolving compliance requirements related to updated Municipal (MS4), Industrial, and Construction General Storm Water Permits and best practices for managing risk.
Paladin Law meets Paladin Wine
In celebration of 10 years of Paladin Law Group, founding partners Bret Stone and John Till made a pilgrimage to Paladin Vigne e Vini (Vineyards and Wines) in Italy. The Paladin vineyards have been a family affair for over 50 years, but this was Paladin Law's first opportunity to imbibe their fine wines. After touring the vineyard and production facility, the two Paladins toasted their new bond (and shipped several crates back to California).
Bret Stone addresses Property Management Plans at CALED Conference in Long Beach
The California Association for Local Economic Development ("CALED") is California’s premier economic development association. Paladin participated in a session entitled "A Survivor’s Guide to AB1484 Post-Compliance – Are Property Management Plans a Backdoor to Economic Development?" The session covered in detail how property management plans can be developed to contribute to economic development efforts. In particular, Bret Stone discussed the challenges Successor Agencies have in preparing their PMPs in relation to AB1484's requirement of inventoring the history of environmental contamination. The talk also included strategies for selling contaminated former RDA properties. For more information about the conference, click here.
Paladin wins Climate Leader award from California Air Resources Board
Paladin Law Group is proud to announce that it has been recognized as a Climate Leader award winner for the 3rd CoolCalifornia Small Business Awards. The CoolCalifornia Small Business Awards recognize California small businesses that took action to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, promoted climate friendly practices and integrated the tools on CoolCalifornia.org into their business operations. For more information about CoolCalifornia.org, click here.
Paladin particpates in Sustainable Property Transactions Conference in Boston
Paladin participated in a conference regarding Sustainable Property Transactions: Business Strategies for Distressed Assets and Dynamic Energy Opportunities. The conference, organized by RTM Communications, included discussions in Brownfields, private equity deals, renewable energy, energy efficiency audits, green remediation, and environmental insurance. For more information about the conference click here.
Stone Interviewed Re Green Claims
The Pacific Coast Business Times interviewed Bret Stone for its article entitled "Greener than thou? Be sure before you make any claims" in its April 6, 2012 issue. The article cites the confusion in the marketplace and FTC enforcement regarding unsubstantiated green claims. To view an exerpt of the article, click here.
Paladin Addresses Cap-and-Trade at AB32 Conference
Bret Stone discussed California cap-and-trade regulations at the AB32: Deep Dive Series; a compendium of events geared to help companies understand and come into compliance with California's climate change laws. This session provided attendees with actionable information to protect their companies, undertsand their carbon footprint, and minimize risk associated with AB32 compliance. For more information, click here.
Developer Settles Contamination, Nondisclosure Case
With just a month before trial, Paladin settled a multi-million dollar case for a major Silicon Valley developer. The case involved environmental contamination at the site of a former bulk fueling and service station that dispensed a wide variety of petroleum products. The developer bought the property after the county gave it site closure, but then discovered contaminated soils during backfilling activities, which led to the site being reopened. Worse, the discovery of the contamination caused the developer's buyer to fall out of escrow because of an inability to obtain financing leaving the developer holding the property. During the discovery phase of the litigation, Paladin learned that the previous owner had information about leaks that had not been disclosed to the county during its previous cleanup activities or to the developer as part of the sale. The lawsuit sought cost recovery, damages, and injunctive relief to compel the defendants to investigate and cleanup the contamination at the site. The settlement included a lump sum payment of $4.25 million plus the defendants took full responsibility to complete the investigation and cleanup.
Water Board Gives Developer Immunity for Contamination
In a landmark agreement, the Regional Water Quality Control Board – Central Coast Region has signed its first ever agreement under the California Land Reuse and Revitalization Act of 2004 giving a developer immunity for the contamination from a former dry cleaner that has plagued the shopping center for decades. Paladin suggested a strategy that would allow the developer to acquire the property without being responsible for the unknowns the contamination presented. Taking its experience in working on Brownfields projects, Paladin designed a strategy premised on the California Land Reuse and Revitalization Act, which was enacted to encourage and establish the cleanup and reuse of underused urban properties subject to liability from historic contamination. The Act provides for an eligible bona fide purchaser to qualify for specified immunities from liability for certain response costs or damage claims under applicable law if various actions are performed. The final agreement includes a response plan to actively clean up the onsite contamination which is expected to have a correlating benefit of decreasing contamination found offsite.
Paladin Wins Motion for Summary Judgment in RCRA Case
In a neighbor versus neighbor dispute regarding migrating contamination from a leaking underground storage tank and related operations, Paladin successfully argued that its client should prevail on summary judgment on its RCRA cause of action. Olson v. Beck, 2011 WL 4634026 (N.D.Cal. 2011). Paladin proved that the defendants were owners and operators of a storage facility that contributed to the past or present handling, storage, treatment, transportation, or disposal of a solid or hazardous waste which may present an imminent and substantial endangerment to health or the environment. To read the entire opinion click here.
The New Energy Usage Disclosure Mandate of AB 1103 – What Should Owners/Brokers/Managers (and their Lawyers) Do, and When?
AB 1103 will require, beginning July 1, 2012, owners of larger non-residential properties to disclose the building’s energy usage data to prospective purchasers, tenants, and lenders before a transaction can be completed. By July 1, 2013 this mandate will apply to all non-residential properties in California exceeding 5,000 sf. While envisioned as a streamlined, online process, the details have not been finalized, utility companies have privacy and accessibility restrictions, and the DOE Energy Star Portfolio Manager tool requires training as does the California Energy Commission’s online system.
Sustainable Community Strategy Highlighted at APA Conference
Bret Stone spoke on a panel entitled The California Silo Effect: Sustainable Community Strategy; Climate Action Plans; Regions, Subregions and Cities at the American Planning Association Conference in Santa Barbara. Since the passage of climate change legislation in California such as AB 32 and SB 375, cities and counties have begun creating Climate Action Plans to identify approaches unique to the community to achieve greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions. One of the key components to developing a Climate Action Plan includes calculating a baseline GHG emission inventory. One problem, however, is that municipalities are often looking at facilities or operations within their own borders in a vacuum without consideration of the communities around them. This silo effect results in a raft of inefficiencies. The panel reviewed these challenges and discussed opportunities for regional and sub-regional coordination. For more information about the APA Conference, click here.
Stone Named as a Who’s Who in Clean Tech & Sustainability Again
For the fourth year in a row, Bret Stone was recognized for his work in environmental and sustainability law and policy by the Pacific Coast Business Times. The list chronicles the efforts of leaders in areas related to the new energy economy, green building, and other aspects of sustainability.
Bret Stone Selected as a Who’s Who in Professional Services by the Pacific Coast Business Times
For the sixth straight year, Bret Stone has been recognized by the Pacific Coast Business Times for his work.
Paladin Law Group signs State Bar Eco-Pledge
Paladin Law Group was among the first law firms to sign the State Bar's Eco-Pledge. The pledge commits lawyers and their firms to assigning someone to implement the sustainability policy, implementing as many policy recommendations as possible, educating members of the firm about sustainability, encouraging law firm landlords and building owners to implement sustainable practices and review the policy and implementation efforts at the beginning of each year. Bret Stone serves on the Sustainability Committee of the State Bar and was instrumental in its launch. For more information on the Eco-Pledge click here.
Where's the Action in Climate Action?
Paladin led a discussion at the California League of Cities Planning Institute entitled "Where's the Action in Climate Action?" AB 32 has been on the books for four years and most cities are still drafting their Climate Action Plans. Many of the Climate Action Plans that have been drafted are nothing more than words at this point. Discuss key strategies to put the “action” back in “Climate Action.” For more information click here.
Paladin at the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management
Bret Stone addressed a class of graduate students at the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management on issues of corporate risk management, environmental and regulatory compliance, and sustainability. The Bren School has earned a reputation as one of the top schools of its kind in the nation and is well-known for its integration of science, management, law, economics, and policy as part of an interdisciplinary approach to environmental problem-solving.
Stone discusses Why Sustainability Makes Business Sense at PEMA
Bret Stone was the keynote speaker at the Professional Environmental Marketing Association. The term “sustainability” is becoming commonplace. But what does it really mean? And why should we care? Companies and public agencies of all sizes are moving towards creating sustainability policies even in the face of a slow economy. These corporate leaders are not just do-gooders. They have proven that using all of their resources – financial, natural, and human capital – to the utmost efficiency is good for business in numerous ways. Moving a business from compliance-oriented to beyond compliance-focused generates huge benefits not only in pollution savings, but in brand reputation and employee morale.
Federal Trade Commission Proposes Revised "Green Guides"
The Federal Trade Commission recently proposed revisions to the guidance that it gives marketers to help them avoid making misleading environmental claims. The proposed changes are designed to update the Guides and make them easier for companies to understand and use. The changes to the “Green Guides” include new guidance on marketers’ use of product certifications and seals of approval, “renewable energy” claims, “renewable materials” claims, and “carbon offset” claims. The FTC is seeking public comments on the proposed changes until December 10, 2010, after which it will decide which changes to make final. For more information click here.
Stone Speaks at London School of Economics Panel on Gulf Oil Spill
Bret Stone served on a panel for a London School of Economics event entitled “Corporate Responsibility When Catastrophe Strikes - An Expert Legal Panel Looks at Who Pays and Why." The centerpiece of the discussion was the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, but branched out to other areas of pollution liability and corporate responsibility and sustainability policies including the differences in environmental regulations in the US compared to the EU.
Stone Serves on Panel at Clean Business Investment Summit in Santa Barbara
Bret Stone served on a panel entitled "Making Cents of Sustainability: Trends and Opportunities in Clean Business" at the Clean Business Investment Summit in Santa Barbara. The event was organized by the California Coast Venture Forum (ccvf.org) as a venue "Where Socially Responsible Investors, and Service Providers Meet Socially Responsible Entrepreneurs."
Paladin Settles Dry Cleaning Contamination Case
After years of battling with the former owners and operators of a dry cleaning plant in Los Angeles and their insurers, a highly contested and complex environmental contamination case has finally come to a close. Paladin's insurance archaeology efforts identified the historic insurance assets related to the site that did not have exclusions for pollution. A lawsuit was filed under nuisance, trespass laws, and state environmental laws. Many parties settled along the way. In the end, Paladin recovered more than $2.2 million for its client.
Paladin Law Group Certified as a Green Business
The Bay Area Green Business Program certified Paladin Law Group as a business that meets its high standards of environmental performance. The firm has also been recognized as a member of the Green Chamber of Commerce.
Paladin Holds Product Labeling Webinar
Bret Stone led a webinar entitled "Product Labeling: Making Sure Green is Really Green." The webinar disscussed Federal Trade Commission regulations, Green Guides, third party certification, and other methods of protecting false claims that a product is "green." To read Paladin's article related to this topic click here.
US Green Building Coucil Retains Paladin Law Group
The United States Green Building Council, California Central Coast Chapter has retained Paladin Law Group to provide legal services relating to its education programs.
Stone Speaks at Environmental Summit
Bret Stone presented on "Why Sustainability Makes Business Sense" at the Annual Statewide Environmental Summit in San Diego sponsored by the California Manufacturers & Technology Association, the Industrial Environmental Association, and the Chemical Industry Council of California.
Bret Stone Speaks on Legal Developments Regarding Insurance Claims for Pollution Coverage
Bret Stone served on a panel to discuss key decisions of the California Supreme Court and California Court of Appeals that have forced insurers to rethink how they deal with insurance coverage claims for pollution. Cases on "stacking" insurance policies over multiple years of coverage, the insured's burden of proof regarding damage caused by "sudden and accidental events," the breadth of the pollution exclusion, and the scope of an insurer's duty to defend have been a boost to policyholders and those responding to environmental contamination. The session also explored how insurance coverage may apply to issues of climate change and greenhouse gas emissions in an ever-changing field of environmental law.
Paladin Law Group Settles Environmental Contamination Case for Shopping Center
Paladin Law Group represented the owner of a shopping center in a lawsuit against the operators of a dry cleaning plant and the manufacturers of the dry cleaning equipment in a federal lawsuit asserting liability under RCRA, CERCLA, nuisance, and trespass.
John Till Appointed to California Redevelopment Association’s Sustainability Committee
CRA tapped John Till as a founding member of its new Sustainability Committee. CRA has been emphasizing the need for redevelopment agencies to build sustainable projects by promoting urban-centered growth, restoring once contaminated areas to viable use, preserving the environment and open space, and reducing urban sprawl and commute times. With the rise of sustainability in the public consciousness, CRA thought it appropriate to establish a standing committee to focus on issues related to sustainability and redevelopment.
Paladin Law Group Settles Nondisclosure, Breach of Fiduciary Duty Case
Paladin Law Group represented the buyers in a lawsuit against the sellers and real estate brokers in a dual agency situation for failing to disclose that an underground heating oil tank had once been located at the property and that pipelines associated with the tank were still buried underground. The case was settled for an undisclosed amount a week before trial.