Environmental & Natural Resource Damage

Environmental Litigation


The lawyers of Richardson, Patrick, Westbrook & Brickman have extensive experience investigating and litigating instances of water contamination and environmental degradation, often on behalf of governmental entities.

RPWB has served lead roles in successfully litigating dozens of natural resource damage cases on behalf of the State of New Jersey, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and United States Virgin Islands.  The majority of these cases involved groundwater and/or surface water contamination from industrial facilities, plants, factories, oil refineries and gas stations. RPWB lawyers worked extensively with experts in the fields of hydrogeology, chemistry, resource valuation, and economics to fully evaluate the extent and damage caused by contamination of valuable water resources.  RPWB’s representation resulted in the recoveries of millions of dollars to compensate the various governmental agencies and to assist in cleanup and preservation efforts.

This included bringing justice to the residents and government of the U.S. Virgin Islands for contamination of the primary aquifer used by St. Croix to supply the island’s drinking water and surface pollution to sites surrounding an oil refinery and alumina refinery. In total, RPWB attorneys recovered financial compensation and environmental remediation efforts between $166.5 million and $189.5 million against large and powerful corporate interests.

In May 2014, Commissioner Department of Planning & Natural Resources v. Century Alumina Company settled for an estimated $140-$160 million, an amount that varies based on the cost of environmental remediation. In the settlement, responsible parties associated with the two refineries – Hess Oil Virgin Islands, Hovensa and Lockheed Martin – agreed to make cash payments of $67.25 million and clean up damage to the aquifer and contaminants still present on the site surrounding the refineries.

Two years prior, in 2012, three other defendants who had ownership stakes in the alumina refinery at various points over its 30 years of operations settled, agreeing to address long-standing environmental contamination on the island by embarking on a comprehensive project with government oversight to cover red mud contamination and plant vegetation to curtail erosion. That work was estimated to cost between $26.5 million and $29.5 million.

Environmental remediation to an area of St. Croix near an oil refinery and alumina refinery. 


RPWB is recognized by The Legal 500 as one of the top toxic tort firms in the country. In addition, we are a U.S. News & World Report 2019 Best Law Firm and are the top-listed class action and mass tort law firm in the Best Lawyers in America.

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