Toxic Torts / Mass Torts Defense

The defense of claims involving toxic torts and mass torts, including asbestos-related cases, environmental contamination, and chemical exposure, is a significant part of the practice at Campbell Conroy & O'Neil, P.C.

Our clients include manufacturers of hazardous chemicals and toxic solvents, companies that use hazardous chemicals and asbestos in the manufacture of their products, owners and operators of properties alleged to be contaminated, lenders who have secured interests in property alleged to be contaminated, distributors of food products claimed to be tainted, property owners in lead and carbon monoxide exposure cases, individuals and institutions in social host and alcohol intoxication cases, and insurance companies in coverage disputes. The cases involve claims brought under both state and federal environmental statutes, as well as in tort.

Campbell Conroy & O’Neil, P.C. has also defended numerous manufacturers of chemicals in cases in which plaintiffs alleged neurological damage and other illnesses caused by exposure to lead paint, herbicides, consumer solvents, and commercial solvents (such as perchloroethylene and trichloethylene, commonly used in dry cleaning), as well as carbon monoxide poisoning caused by purportedly defective heating systems and generators.

The firm recently had primary responsibility for the defense of Pharmacia Corporation, f/k/a Monsanto Company, in June Taylor, executrix of the estate of Claude Taylor et al. v. Airco, Inc. et al., a multi-defendant toxic tort action pending in the Springfield, Massachusetts, division of the United States District Court. The Taylor case arises out of the cancer death of a former employee of Monsanto’s chemical plant in Indian Orchard, Massachusetts, allegedly as a result of on-the-job exposure to vinyl chloride monomer, and implicates issues of industrial hygiene, epidemiology, medical causation, medical monitoring, and alleged conspiratorial corporate malfeasance. Richard L. Campbell of the Campbell Conroy & O’Neil, P.C. team works closely with Monsanto’s in-house counsel, with its national coordinating discovery counsel, and with counsel representing more than a dozen other defendants. The firm formerly represented Monsanto and Sunoco as premises liability defendants in a multi defendant asbestos claim brought by the estate of a contractor who died of cancer after many years of work installing and removing asbestos-containing products in government and industrial buildings, including Monsanto’s Indian Orchard plant, throughout Massachusetts. The Massachusetts state court judge permitted the plaintiff to join Monsanto and Sunoco as new defendants, without notice to them, less than six months before the case was set for trial; but our firm’s aggressive defense resulted in voluntary dismissals with prejudice without any payment by either defendant and before they were required to incur trial preparation expense.

For over a decade one of the firm represented Monsanto in In re Paoli Railroad Yard PCB Litigation, class actions brought in both state and federal court in which approximately 300 plaintiffs who either worked or lived adjacent to the Paoli Railroad Yard alleged that they suffered from a variety of illnesses as a result of exposure to PCBs on the site. The cases resulted in three landmark decisions on the admissibility of expert testimony in toxic tort litigation that remain the leading guideposts within the Third Circuit.

In asbestos cases Campbell Conroy & O’Neil, P.C. serve as lead trial counsel for General Motors Corporation, Ford Motor Company, and DaimlerChrysler AG for friction products cases filed in New England. The firm also represents Caterpillar Inc. in asbestos cases brought in the Northeast. Most of these cases involve mesothelioma, and our attorneys have developed substantial working knowledge of toxicology, epidemiology, environmental medicine, occupational medicine, preventive medicine, industrial hygiene, pathology, and engineering through the handling of them. This knowledge is essential to the successful handling of toxic tort cases.

The firm represented seven major oil companies, including Mobil, Shell, Amoco, and Arco, in an action brought in Bristol County (Massachusetts) Superior Court under M.G.L.c. 21E (Massachusetts Oil and Hazardous Material Release Prevention and Response Act ), the state law version of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), arising out of the Sullivan’s Ledge Superfund litigation. Read a detailed case study of this trial here and more about our Environmental practice here.

Campbell Conroy & O’Neil, P.C. represented Mobil Corporation in a groundwater contamination case, eventually settled, that a locally prominent Roman Catholic high school brought in the United States District Court in Providence, Rhode Island. The school alleged that petroleum and waste products from an abutting service station had migrated onto its property, impairing its use and value.

The firm also represented a manufacturer of “natural” cigarettes sued in federal court by a smoker who alleged that he was addicted to the defendant’s cigarettes, that his emphysema was caused by them, and that he had been misled into believing that the defendant’s cigarettes were less hazardous than others because of their “naturalness.” Campbell Conroy & O’Neil, P.C. obtained voluntary dismissal with prejudice of the claim, without any payment by the defendant, through aggressive discovery of the plaintiff’s medical history.

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