Mark has more than 25 years of experience establishing effective legal strategies that position companies to anticipate and defend against environmental, toxic tort, agribusiness/food safety and crisis-related claims. As chair of the firm’s Chambers-recognized Toxic Tort Practice and co-chair of the Agribusiness and Food Safety Practice, he leads litigation at the state and federal level in addition to handling high-stakes enforcement matters and client counseling that require complex issues management.
Mark holds a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering and worked as an engineer for seven years prior to his legal career. Relying on his legal, engineering and science background, Mark represents clients in class actions, multiparty cases and individual actions involving personal injury, property damage and medical monitoring claims. He also serves as lead counsel in defending against citizen group and government enforcement actions under federal and state environmental statutes, including the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, CERCLA and RCRA. In this capacity, he has successfully litigated and resolved environmental enforcement matters in state and federal court as well as with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Justice and state agencies. He also counsels clients on state and federal governmental investigations and inquiries, including those conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and EPA.
Mark has also been tapped as lead environmental counsel on many significant corporate transactions. He has managed environmental aspects of mergers and acquisitions and real estate transactions, including the resolution of liabilities prior to closing; responding to due diligence inquiries; providing options for retention or transfer of liabilities through various insurance programs and third-party remedial companies; transferring permits; and preparation of environmental representation, warranty and indemnity language. Mark also advises on Brownfields development and site remediation.
Mark’s achievements have captured the attention of many in the industry, including Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, which recognized him as a "client favorite" and Leading Lawyer in Environmental Law and characterized his work as "clear" and "appropriately aggressive" with "results that speak for themselves." Mark's clients have lauded him as "a very strong courtroom litigator" who "stands out" thanks to his engineering background, which allows him to "quickly grasp the technical aspects of the case." Mark also is recognized by Benchmark: The Definitive Guide to America’s Leading Litigation Firms and Attorneys, which singled him out as a National Star for Litigation. Benchmark selected Mark for this recognition because he is “capable of handling complex cases anywhere in the country.”
Mark serves a wide variety of industries throughout the United States. In recent years, he has successfully represented clients in litigation related to numerous business sectors including energy, mining, engineering, construction, manufacturing and agribusiness where claims of chemical releases into the air, water and soil were asserted. In addition to serving as lead defense counsel in private party litigation, Mark’s client representation often involves managing parallel governmental agency actions.
Energy Sector Litigation – Much of Mark’s practice is devoted to the energy sector, including utility, chemical and gasoline/petroleum companies. His work covers matters from generation, production and processing to storage, transportation and delivery to the end-user. He currently serves as counsel on several petroleum-related matters and represented a large electric utility company in several proposed class actions and numerous multiparty and individual toxic tort/environmental actions. In this capacity, he has successfully defeated motions for class certification and bellwether trials, in addition to obtaining dismissals of plaintiffs’ claims for personal injury, punitive damages and emotional distress as well as those pertaining to emergency relief, preliminary injunction and remediation activities.
Manufacturing and Construction Litigation – Mark has defended numerous multi-party individual lawsuits involving claimed releases of chemicals at or from manufacturing facilities, including claimed releases of chlorinated solvents, petroleum constituents, and lead and metals into the air, water and soil. Mark has defended class action claims brought by plaintiffs seeking certification of proposed medical monitoring and property damage classes alleging that mining activities resulted in air, water and soil contamination exposure related to lead, heavy metals and other toxins. Mark’s technical background and experience has resulted in Mark representing clients on highly complex engineering and construction matters such as geotechnical mechanics of causation related to subsurface foundational structures. He is also experienced in using Daubert challenges to successfully exclude plaintiffs’ expert opinions on air dispersion modeling and other scientific testimony.
Agribusiness and Food Safety – Mark’s litigation and regulatory experience in the agribusiness/food sector includes, by way of example, releases from Underground Storage Tanks (USTs); fumigation related claims involving storage facilities and transportation of grain for food processing; negotiating consent orders for remediation at agribusiness and food storage facilities; defending citizen suit, State and Federal agency enforcement over agribusiness operations involving claims under CERCLA, the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act; and defending private party personal injury and property damage claims involving agribusiness operations, including the defense of numerous nuisance based claims and defeating class action claims involving a plant that converted animal waste to carbon based fuel. Mark’s defense of agribusiness/food clients in litigation often involves managing parallel agency enforcement or investigations brought by EPA, OSHA, NIOSH, ATSDR, and their state counterparts including departments of health and agriculture.
Publications and Presentations
Mark has authored articles and frequently speaks at national and local conferences on toxic tort, environmental, agribusiness, food safety and crisis management matters. In 2016, he addressed crisis management and gave an update on food marketing litigation and regulatory developments at the Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City and the Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association's forum on Consumer Driven Changes in the Food/Agriculture Industry; presented at a Federal Bar Association seminar on the Use of Scientific Evidence in our Federal Courts; and conducted a mock trial at the 2016 Financial & Contract Administration Council in Chicago.
Mark presented on emerging issues at the 2014 Missouri Governor’s Conference on Agriculture in Kansas City, Missouri, and presented on a hydraulic fracturing panel at the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association conference held November 8, 2013. In 2012, he presented on hybrid witnesses under revised Federal Rules at the American Bar Association Women in Products Liability Workshop (Boston, Mass.), the future of toxic tort and environmental litigation at Shook’s Class Action & Complex Litigation Summit, and hydraulic fracturing at Shook’s Oil & Gas Industry CLE. He has also been a guest speaker for the Defense Research Institute on toxic tort and environmental law and has been featured as a lecturer by the Region VII Environmental & Safety Symposium and the National Association of Environmental Law Society.