Business owner concerns regarding toxic tort litigation

On Behalf of | Sep 16, 2020 | Environmental Law |

Business enterprises of every type and dimension in New Jersey and national routinely face risks that threaten their bottom line. A common challenge for many of them – whether they are a private or public entity engaged in a lending, development, realty-linked or other transaction – links directly to environmental concerns.

Indeed, environmental issues often loom large across the commercial landscape, especially involving significant projects featuring complex regulatory controls and an interplay among federal, state and local laws. One online overview of the business-environmental sphere notes that relevant rules “are not only exhaustive, but present a moving target.”

Environmental lawsuits: a core concern for many businesses

Disputes grounded in environmental claims are diverse and can involve broad-based claimants and allegations of legal culpability spanning broad terrain. The focus below is on the potential for a business to be sued for its claimed involvement promoting dangers linked with so-called “toxic torts” and resulting injuries.

What is a toxic tort, and how can a claim challenge a business?

Toxic tort claims allege injury caused by harmful exposure to some dangerous chemical or other substance. Litigation can center on consumer drugs claimed to be dangerous, pesticides, manufacturing compounds, mercury, asbestos and more. Moreover, a lawsuit might allege widespread damaging effects from accidental leaks into air and groundwater.

Businesses can be immediately and severely threatened by toxic tort claims. That can be especially true when large numbers of individuals collectively band together as claimants in class-action lawsuits. Such litigation can prove detrimental for a company’s image, divert precious time and resources otherwise devoted to business operations, and potentially yield stark monetary and other sanctions.

Defending against a toxic tort claim in state or federal court

Mounting a defense against a toxic tort lawsuit can unsurprisingly be a challenging endeavor. A proven pro-business environmental law legal team can often secure optimal results, though. Case outcomes often hinge on factors like these:

  • Causation
  • Weight and relevance of offered evidence
  • Applicable time dimension
  • Other contributing elements

Causation is often key. Can injury claims reasonably be traced back to one alleged substance? Should other intervening variables also be considered, especially regarding claims from many years ago? Is submitted evidence flatly stale, easily rebutted or even nonexistent? Can a defense team marshal a team of experts to weigh in authoritatively on claims? Has the legal window for even filing a lawsuit closed?

The bottom line in a toxic torts case often stresses the need for a defendant to timely secure experienced and aggressive legal counsel. Claimants’ resolve in moving forward is often crystal clear. As a definitive article on toxic torts notes, “plaintiffs usually sue anyone and everyone that could possibly have any possible link to a dangerous substance.”