Environmental Disputes

Ross Forensics professionals have diverse and substantive expertise in a wide variety of environmental claims and disputes.  Our personnel have served as cost and damages experts in numerous significant environmental cost recovery and contribution cases beginning with the Exxon Valdez grounding in Prince William Sound in 1989.

Our work typically involves detailed analyses of:  the nature and timing of costs incurred in investigation and remediation; supporting documentation; and, consistency with Consent Decrees, the NCP and other regulatory requirements.  We also are retained frequently by PRP groups, steering committees and other parties undertaking response and remediation activities to perform an accounting for costs incurred, including compiling underlying documentation.  In this context, our reports are often used in support of private party and government settlement discussions, cost allocation negotiations and methodologies and contribution participation from other PRPs.  We also have been retained to address government oversight costs, economic benefit from non-compliance and ability to pay issues and government penalty assessments.

Separate from cost recovery/contribution assignments, we have served as experts on behalf of defendants in numerous large-scale residential property value diminution matters involving issues such as airport noise, odors from landfills, composting operations and waste water treatment plants and impacts from industrial facilities.

Our work has encompassed a wide variety of sites, including:  mines; industrial facilities; landfills; waterways; rail yards; and, airports.

Ross Forensics professionals have provided expert testimony on a broad range of environmental damages issues in numerous depositions and trials in state and federal courts nationwide.


Case Studies in Environmental Disputes

Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Litigation

Our professionals were retained by the State of Alaska to quantify its claims for economic damages resulting from the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill.  As part of the Governor’s Oil Spill Coordinating Office team, we developed and maintained an oil spill cost accounting and claims administration system and coordinated claim preparation activities for all affected state agencies.  This required the identification, cost tracking and reporting of state expenditures totaling more than $100 million.


Approximately $50 million were analyzed to verify cost recoverability and the adequacy of supporting documentation under a claims reimbursement agreement between the State and Exxon.  Our personnel also prepared cost reimbursement packages that were submitted for payment to Exxon.


Information from the cost databases was utilized by state agencies to monitor oil spill costs and reimbursements as well as by the attorney general’s office to evaluate settlement options.  More than $30 million in State response costs were recovered prior to a $1.0 billion settlement of the oil spill litigation.

Superfund Contribution Litigation

Our professionals were retained by several PRP groups in two related litigations involving claims for contribution for the cost of investigation and remediation of two inland waterways within a major marine Superfund site.


We were asked to prepare an accounting of costs incurred which were in excess of $100 million and compile the supporting documentation.  Our analyses addressed the nature and timing of the costs incurred, supporting documentation and consistency of the work and related costs with Consent Decrees negotiated with EPA.


Steve Ross provided expert testimony in deposition and trial in two separate matters in United States District Court.  In both matters, the court ruled that all of the costs claimed properly were considered response costs.

Airport Noise Litigation

Our professionals were retained by a port authority to respond to claims brought by numerous homeowners alleging that their home values had been diminished as a consequence of noise from aircraft operations at a major west coast airport.  In advance of significantly expanding the plaintiff group, the parties agreed to a trial in federal court to litigate the claims of approximately twenty “bell-weather” plaintiffs.


We analyzed residential property sales and appreciation trends over a fifteen year period in the airport (subject) area and then compared the subject area trends to those of similar (control) neighborhoods.  The control neighborhoods were selected based on similarities of housing stock, demographics and area amenities but without proximity to the airport.


Based on our assessment, we determined that there was no material difference between housing appreciation rates and sales activity in the airport area compared to other similar neighborhoods without airport proximity.  Steve Ross provided expert testimony in deposition and trial in United States District Court.


The court ruled in favor of our client denying in full the plaintiffs’ claims.  As a consequence of the favorable ruling in Seattle, we were asked by a number of other airport owner/operators nationwide to assist them with similar claims.

Municipal Landfill Cost Recovery

Our professionals were retained by a large PRP group to analyze a cost recovery claim in excess of $40 million arising from the closure and remediation of a major municipal landfill.  In connection with the landfill closure, EPA designated the facility a Superfund site.  The plaintiff, a large west coast municipality, was the landfill owner/operator.


Our analysis addressed the nature, timing and support for the costs claimed.  In addition, based upon a detailed analysis of the costs of the closure/remediation activities and the relevant regulatory requirements, we were able to segregate the costs incurred to investigate and remediate hazardous waste contamination from the costs that were incurred as part of ordinary closure and decommissioning of the landfill.


Based on this analysis, counsel for our clients argued to the court that only the costs incurred to address hazardous waste contamination at the site could properly be recovered as response costs.  Steve Ross provided expert testimony on our findings in deposition in United States District Court.


In what was a landmark decision, the court ruled that ordinary landfill closure costs could not be considered hazardous waste response costs for which our clients were liable.  The case settled shortly thereafter.

Industrial Facility Cross Claims – Los Angeles Basin

Our professionals were retained by a large chemical manufacturer to review and evaluate damages claims put forth by an adjacent business which asserted that environmental contamination of its property was caused by migration of industrial waste from the chemical company’s facility.


The damages claimed included site investigation and removal costs, as well as alleged loss of profits and loss of business value.


Our analyses demonstrated that the site investigation and removal costs claimed were associated with the plaintiff’s own industrial operations and waste handling and disposal practices.  In addition, we demonstrated that the loss of business value claim was based on a flawed valuation analysis and the loss of profits claim was without basis.  Separately, we were asked to review and analyze more than $7.5 million in investigation and remediation costs incurred by our client.


Contribution for these costs was sought from the adjacent business as a consequence of contamination alleged to have migrated from its property.  Steve Ross provided expert testimony in deposition in United States District Court.  The matter subsequently settled.