WHAT WE DO
As a “private public interest” law firm, AltmanNewman uses available state and federal legal tools to protect public health and the environment. We resolve environmental cases on behalf of private and public clients (including individuals & families, neighborhood groups, environmental organizations, businesses, water and solid waste associations, non-profits, and state, regional or local governments) seeking to prevent ongoing pollution exposure and to obtain soil, water, and waste cleanups. Below is a description of the types of cases that our firm handles.
WATER, PROPERTY & GROUNDWATER CONTAMINATION
Seeping landfills and industrial lagoons, contaminated soil, contaminated river sediment, air pollution, and many other types of pollution can contaminate soils and groundwater on neighboring properties. AltmanNewman has successfully represented property owners in citizen suits to recover money damages for loss of use of enjoyment, and loss of use of property resulting from seeping landfills, contaminated soil and river sediments, and air pollution. Because citizen suit provisions do not allow recovery of private damages, we often combine citizen suits with negligence, nuisance, and trespass claims. From there, our firm works with experts, including hydrogeologists, environmental engineers, and real estate professionals, to evaluate the extent and impact of the contamination, and then litigates in federal and state courts to recover property damages.
AIR POLLUTION AND AIR NUISANCE
Many Americans live in communities where air pollution poses a threat to their health and property. This is often the result of facilities refusing to reduce their emissions of air pollution. Of course, the impacted communities bear the brunt by being exposed to pollution known to aggravate heart ailments, lung disease, and asthma. Such air pollution is particularly harmful to young children. The air pollution also often forces people to reduce, or even cease, outdoor activities that they enjoy, such as gardening, watching their children play outside, or just sitting on their deck or patio to enjoy a cup of coffee or read the paper. While pollution can come in the form of large, visible clouds of pollution, it is the pollution that cannot be seen which is the most dangerous because it becomes lodged deep within the lungs.
Our firm uses legal tools, including federal and state air laws, to seek court orders requiring the polluter to apply pollution controls to abate the nuisance and to prevent further damage to health and property. We are also often able to secure payment of money to compensate for the loss of use and enjoyment of property and discomfort resulting from the nuisance.
DRINKING WATER POLLUTION
Safe drinking water is essential to health and everyday functioning. Unfortunately, drinking water supplies are under constant threat and are becoming ever scarcer. Private individuals and water suppliers whose drinking water has been contaminated often need legal representation to ensure that their rights are protected and that they are compensated for any harm that has been imposed or is threatened. Our firm has been involved in precedent-setting cases involving highly contaminated drinking water and has fought to secure effective alternate water and long-term treatment, and to ensure that those responsible were held accountable. See more in our representative Cases. Through these efforts, we have developed substantial knowledge of the environmental, scientific and legal issues involved in bringing a successful contaminated drinking water case.
SEWER POLLUTION, INCLUDING BASEMENT BACKUPS & SEWER OVERFLOWS
Our firm’s work led to the first-of-its-kind sewer back-up program in Hamilton County, Ohio designed to compensate victims of sewer backup events. Due to decades of experience working on illegal sewer overflows, we are intimately familiar with the process of assessing the causes of sewage backups and gathering the evidence necessary to determine whether the backup was the fault of a governmental entity. If you believe you may have been impacted by a potential sewage backup, we are available to evaluate litigation options. In particular, if you are a resident of Hamilton County, Ohio, we are available to evaluate whether you can pursue a claim under the Sewer Backup Program or should instead consider a claim in state court.
UNLAWFUL ACTIONS, PERMITS & RULES
Our firm has helped private citizens and groups challenge unlawful regulatory actions, including environmental permits for landfills and administrative rules. Through the years we have successfully challenged such administrative actions by guiding citizen participation in the administrative process, working with experts to draft written comments, representing clients at public hearings, and appealing permit decisions before administrative boards and in state and federal courts. For example, we have:
(1) litigated the overturning of Ohio EPA’s permit decision for a landfill on behalf of a community-based environmental organization; and
(2) achieved the reversal and remand, on appeal, of a state air toxics rule, thereby requiring the agency to regulate additional potentially harmful chemicals.
Chemical Right-To-Know, Chemical Release and Explosion
AltmanNewman has represented individuals and communities that have experienced chemical explosions, chemical releases, and their aftermath. As lead counsel in a class action on behalf of the Columbus area community that suffered two major explosions from a nearby Georgia-Pacific facility, we secured compensation for class members, a medical monitoring program, and independent experts’ review of and recommendations to improve the facility’s operations. We had previously obtained money and other class-wide relief for families and property owners from a wide area around a Cincinnati area BASF plant, which exploded in 1990.
We have also used the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (“EPCRA”), which was enacted in 1986, to help communities obtain important chemical risk information. The legislation was passed in the wake of a catastrophic toxic chemical release at an industrial facility in Bhopal, India, which killed or injured thousands of people in the surrounding community. EPCRA and its implementing regulations require owners and operators of facilities that store, use, or release hazardous chemicals in excess of threshold quantities to report information on those substances to federal, state, local emergency planning and response agencies, and to the public at large.
AltmanNewman is ready to represent communities that are threatened by environmental hazards from chemical explosions, releases, and accidents.