Settlements in environmental litigation don’t come cheaply. In a recent example, O’Reilly Auto Parts has agreed to pay almost $10 million to settle a lawsuit brought by over 50 California district attorneys. The amount includes civil penalties, litigation costs, and portions designated to fund future environmental enforcement and compliance efforts.
According to the allegations, the company unlawfully handled hazardous waste at some of its stores in California. The waste products include used oil, alkaline batters, used oil filters, and electronic waste. Undercover investigations revealed that the company had sent this waste to various California landfills, even though state law prohibits landfills from receiving that type of material.
A company spokesperson characterized California’s regulatory environment as expansive and challenging. The spokesperson also claimed that the company is an environmental steward that recycles millions of gallons of used oil.
Our California law firm provides legal representation for a full range of environmental regulatory and legal issues. We understand that a substantial amount of money can be at stake when officials accuse a company of non-compliance. When possible, we encourage companies to minimize their potential exposure by proactively identifying areas of risk.
Our advisory process is analogous to an environmental general counsel’s role. We review the actions of managers and company leaders to assess their environmental risk. The scope of activities affected by regulatory oversight can be quite broad. For example, there are land use and zoning laws, licenses and permits needed for handling certain types of hazardous waste, insurance requirements for pollution or toxic torts, and due diligence needs regarding potential liability to CERCLA or other state or federal laws. We have the experience to offer counsel in all of these areas.
Source: USA Today, “O’Reilly Auto Parts to Pay Almost $10 Million in Environmental Settlement,” Ryan Levi, Dec. 1 2016