The playbook: increased regulatory interest from U.S. government agencies that include EPA, NIOSH, OSHA, and ATSDR; heightened press visibility; public meetings led by activists who claim that environmental risks are created by industry and ignored by government; the lawsuit featuring an ill-defined class and allegations of injuries ranging from generalized respiratory complaints to alleged cancer clusters. 

As a well-funded plaintiffs’ bar looks for its “next asbestos,” our clients look to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to guide them through the murky waters of toxic tort litigation.  We know the playbook and we know the roster of likely suspects. Prepared to oppose claims designed to perpetuate fear and misperception, Shook attorneys have the skill, experience and judgment to implement disciplined, holistic legal and technical strategies to protect our clients from risk identification to class certification and, if necessary, trial.

Shook's toxic tort trial lawyers monitor and counter government and media campaigns.  We develop the factual, legal and technical record to defeat class certification. With a deep understanding of the medical and environmental science and how it is developed and used by the opposition, we are tenacious in rooting out, exposing and disposing of junk science.  We sweat the details so that our clients can ultimately provide an accurate and compelling story to the judge, the jury and the public. 

Representative Matters

Air and Land

Poultry Litter Trial:  Obtained jury verdict in favor of makers of Roxarsone®, a drug used in raising broiler chickens, against plaintiffs alleging that Roxarsone® degraded into a harmful form of arsenic in chicken litter used as fertilizer, resulting in exposure via wind and allegedly causing their son’s chronic myelogenous leukemia. A jury in Fayetteville, Arkansas, needed only 21 minutes to return a defense verdict.

Mine Tailing Litigation: Defended successors to former hard rock mining interests against putative classes alleging property damage and seeking medical monitoring, and against almost 200 miners claiming neuropsychological deficits due to alleged lead exposure via air dispersion at a federal Superfund site in Oklahoma. Successfully defeated class certification and resolved all claims through dismissal or settlement on favorable terms.

Hexavalent Chromium Litigation:  Defended large engineering and construction firm in a series of personal injury and property damage lawsuits involving class allegations and more than 175 individual plaintiffs. The plaintiffs claimed exposure to hexavalent chromium arising out of the land application of tannery biosolids on approximately 50,000 acres in northern Missouri. Obtained dismissal of medical monitoring and federal property damage class action and resolved or obtained dismissal of individual personal injury and group property damage claims.


MTBE Trial:  Obtained defense verdict for a pump manufacturer after a five-week trial on claims of four bellwether plaintiffs alleging widespread MTBE and benzene groundwater contamination and soil vapor intrusion as a result of the alleged release of fuel from a service station near Philadelphia. This case involved complex technical issues, a fractured bedrock modeling scenario and extensive expert testimony.

BTEX Litigation:  Representing silica mining and processing company in multi-party toxic tort litigation brought in Illinois state court by 43 residents claiming personal injury and property damage as the result of alleged BTEX impacts to shallow drinking water wells. 

Metals Litigation:  Defended toxic tort litigation brought by residents claiming personal injuries and property damage as a result of alleged exposure to groundwater allegedly affected by metals and other contaminants from wastewater handling at a bottling plant near Paw Paw, Michigan. Obtained dismissal of many individual claims through successful motion practice and disposed of remaining claims favorably through mediation.

Public Drinking Water Supply Litigation:  Defended composites and resin manufacturer in toxic tort litigation brought on behalf of approximately 70,000 residents of Camden, New Jersey, who claimed injuries from exposure to public drinking water allegedly contaminated by chlorinated solvents and metals.  Successfully defeated class certification and obtained dismissal of named plaintiffs on a statute-of-limitations basis. The trial court’s decisions against plaintiffs were subsequently affirmed by the New Jersey appellate courts.

Surface Water

Coal Ash Litigation:  Represented a large electric utility in multiple environmental class actions and multi-party and individual toxic tort actions arising from the failure of a fly ash holding pond in Kingston, Tennessee. Obtained decisions denying class certification, personal injury claims and punitive damage claims.

Radiation Exposure Litigation:  Representing former Atomic Energy Commission contractor in toxic tort claims brought by individuals residing along Coldwater Creek near St. Louis, Missouri. Plaintiffs allege a variety of personal injuries, cancers and other diseases allegedly resulting from radiation exposure via surface water and air.

Workplace Exposure/Premises Liability

Mesothelioma Trial:  Obtained a complete defense verdict for an electric utility in a wrongful death and premises liability suit in Missouri state court.  Plaintiffs sought $36.5 million for personal injuries allegedly suffered as a result of exposure to asbestos-insulated pipes dating to the 1950s.

Workplace Chemical and Radiation Exposure Docket:  Representing specialty chemical and radiopharmaceutical manufacturers in litigation filed nationwide alleging various personal injuries such as cancer and blood diseases due to alleged exposures to chemicals such as benzene and chlorinated solvents, as well as radiation exposure.

Food, Energy and Product Manufacturing:  Representing numerous clients in the food, energy and products manufacturing sectors against workplace exposure/premises liability claims throughout the United States.