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BRIAN D. LANGA
Partner
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REPRESENTATIVE EXPERIENCE
Environmental Litigation

  • Substantial experience in defending and prosecuting cost recovery actions brought under CERCLA and related state causes of action including representation of potentially responsible parties (PRP) at numerous Federal and State listed sites including: the Omega Superfund Site; the Operating Industries, Inc. (OII) Superfund Site; McColl Superfund Site; Gardena Sumps Site; Montrose Site; Del Amo Site; San Fernando Valley Superfund Site; and San Gabriel Valley Superfund Site. Clients include oil and gas producers and distributors, paint and coating manufacturers, waste haulers, metal platers, engravers, circuit board manufacturers, plastic and metal part fabricators, furniture manufacturers, commercial and residential real estate developers, and more. Often achieved favorable settlements documented with Consent Decrees with enforcement agencies, including assisting in establishment of qualified settlement funds to provide favorable tax benefits.
  • Appointed Liaison Counsel by United States District Court in a large scale CERCLA litigation. Proposed a complex civil litigation procedure to simplify the massive litigation and then negotiated and finalized multifaceted settlements involving numerous PRPs, municipalities, water companies, and Federal and State regulatory agencies.
  • Worked with enforcement personnel to bring several PRP’s to the negotiating table on behalf of a client with an option to purchase a State Superfund site – despite an earlier unsuccessful suit brought against the same PRP’s by the prior owner of the site.
  • Represented international oil and gas corporation with respect to multiple sites allegedly contaminated due to past activities. Representations have included responding to Federal and State enforcement agency claims and the negotiation of favorable Consent Decrees and Enforcement Orders while also investigating and prosecuting successful cost recovery claims against other PRPs, many of which had not been previously identified by the regulatory agencies. Representations have also included defense of claims from private parties, including a settlement on terms extremely favorable to the client after successful demurrer and motion practice.
  • Investigated and prosecuted cost recovery actions on behalf of landowners, including location of current viable parties responsible for historic contamination.
  • Prosecuted multiple professional negligence actions against environmental consultants with respect to improper Phase I environmental site assessments.
  • Represented manufacturer associated with site impacted by seventy years of operations and efficiently obtained dismissal at early stage through Motion for Summary Judgment.
  • Defended clients against several Proposition 65 claims and negotiated favorable settlements with citizen/plaintiffs.

Property Acquisition, Development, and Management

  • Assisted numerous private parties with the acquisition, development, and management of industrial, commercial, and residential projects– often when such transactions are complicated by environmental concerns. The property uses at issue have ranged from industrial manufacturing, retail, strip malls, law firms, banks, restaurants, gasoline stations, trailer parks, multi-family residential including condominium and apartment complexes, golf courses, large private estates, and more.
  • Represented individuals in connection with dissolution of partnerships and joint ventures involved in property acquisition and management. Litigated and settled such matters including appraisal and distribution of various business entities’ real property assets.
  • Represented numerous lessors and lessees in lease disputes. These matters often involve large industrial tenants and alleged environmental impacts to the real property by past or present operators, tenants, and owners. Utilized unique unlawful detainer procedural statutes to facilitate and expedite litigation of the matter and obtain prompt, successful settlements or verdicts.
  • Prosecuted and defended matters associated with breaches of multi-million dollar real property purchase and sale agreements.
  • Negotiated and finalized numerous access and indemnity agreements to address and allocate cleanup responsibility among parties at particular properties.
  • Assisted developer with large scale mixed-use project when the construction was delayed due to unexpected discovery of soil contamination.  Worked with multiple consultants and regulatory agencies to address the contamination and promptly obtain a No Further Action letter without unduly impacting the construction schedule.
  • Worked with appropriate Federal and State regulatory agencies including Department of Toxic Substance Control, Regional Water Quality Control Boards, and Certified Unified Public Agencies, to obtain “no further action” characterizations and similar appropriate directives to facilitate development of allegedly contaminated sites. Also communicated and worked with property occupants to address perceived concerns.
  • Researched and reviewed potential site acquisitions to address environmental concerns raised by buyers and sellers. Assisted consultants, including environmental engineers, surveyors, and health risk assessors, in completing work in a timely and efficient manner sufficient to allow the planned transaction and/or project.
  • Assisted public entities with acquisition and planned development of private property complicated with environmental concerns.
  • Defended clients against alleged zoning and permitting violations; negotiated settlements with code enforcement agencies and obtained appropriate amendments or variances as needed to permit the existing uses.

Insurance Coverage

  • Tendered claims and directed investigation and remedial work in a manner to ensure coverage in connection with Pollution Legal Liability (PLL) Policies and prosecuted claims against insurers until payment was provided under PLL policies.
  • Represented clients in connection with investigating and obtaining insurance coverage for environmentally related losses, typically in connection with commercial general liability (CGL) policies.  Pursued carriers to obtain a defense of third party claims and ultimately acquired insurance funding of settlements resolving the claims.  Cases include but are not limited to: litigation brought against multiple CGL carriers in connection with a failure to defend and indemnify a refiner’s alleged petroleum products contamination of soil and groundwater; a Superfund PRP’s recovery of the entirety of defense and indemnity costs for private party and EPA claims while maintaining open coverage for future claims despite precedent indicating coverage was not available; worked with insurers regarding client’s coverage of a regional MTBE groundwater claim to confirm the insurers funded settlement fully resolving the claims; and, representation of nationwide circuit board manufacturer to obtain coverage notwithstanding payments and releases issued by prior counsel in connection with the same policies.
  • Pursued insurance brokers for failure to provide sufficient coverage for clients and obtained favorable settlements from brokers’ insurers.
  • Obtained full indemnity payment on claim initially denied based upon novel application of the Vacancy Clause.
  • Negotiated insurance coverage products on behalf of clients acquiring allegedly contaminated properties and/or undertaking assessment and remediation activities.

Breach of Contract and Related Business Litigation

  • Litigated several breach of contract actions including: actions involving inadequate work performed by consultants; action against a large public entity concerning withdrawal of contract successfully bid upon; contract dispute related to environmental cleanup of refinery; large scale petroleum company’s alleged breach of service contracts; and brokerage fees associated with sale of multimillion dollar Portuguese estate and winery. Each matter resulted in a successful settlement.
  • Represented several individuals and entities in connection with dissolutions of businesses involved in various enterprises including apparel manufacturing and property acquisition and management.
  • Represented several clients in both prosecution and defense of unlawful detainer actions. Cases often involved alleged environmental contamination of the leasehold and owner/tenant responsibility for such.
  • Litigated to a successful verdict, including attorneys’ fees, on behalf of a property owner with respect to a buyer’s withdrawal from a multi-million dollar purchase and sale agreement; successfully argued that the buyer’s failure to recognize certain environmental concerns during contingency periods was the failure of his due diligence and did not give a right to withdraw upon later discovery of the same.
  • Advised client regarding alleged infringement of copyright, trademark, and unfair competition violations by a national competitor.
  • Represented business through litigation against municipality for alleged violation of civil rights and inverse condemnation associated with improper enforcement of ordinances against business operations.

Redevelopment / Brownfields

  • Represented private developers and redevelopment agencies concerning large brownfields projects including property acquisition, liaison with regulatory agencies’ regarding cleanup oversight and closure, implementation of the Polanco Act on behalf of redevelopment agencies (prior to elimination of agencies), and obtaining Federal and State assistance.
  • Obtained on behalf of a redevelopment agency one of the first, (and still only one of a few), Polanco Act immunity letters issued by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board (LARWQCB).

Toxic Torts

  • Represented clients in the complex methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE) Multi-District Litigation which involves more than 100 lawsuits consolidated in federal court in the Southern District of New York.
  • Represented multiple defendants in complex toxic tort litigation involving alleged contamination of groundwater underlying the San Gabriel Valley. This action involved approximately 3000 plaintiffs and 100 defendants including water purveyors, public entities, general industry and businesses.
  • Defended large oil and gas distributor in several matters against toxic tort claims brought by various downstream users alleging injuries stemming from alleged exposure to gasoline products.
  • Awarded summary judgment on behalf of defendant, a materials recovery facility, for alleged injuries caused by alleged contamination emanating from the facility.
  • Defended multiple clients in common toxic tort actions brought by specialty toxic tort firms, including alleged exposure to asbestos, diesel gas, etc.

General Compliance

  • Advised numerous clients regarding environmental regulatory compliance requirements in a variety of fields including, but not limited to, property acquisition and development, paint and finishing manufacturing, nurseries, furniture manufacturing, nutritional supplement manufacturing, oil and gas production and refining, rendering, and metal plating. Advice includes not only current requirements related to various environmental oversight agencies’ permitting and regulatory requirements but also monitoring of proposed future changes in order to continually advise clients of the ever changing regulatory climate.

Air Quality

  • Assisted property owners in obtaining approval for proposed property uses notwithstanding alleged indoor air quality issues. Negotiated and obtained approval from regulatory agencies and worked with present occupants to address concerns.
  • Litigated variance petitions, orders for abatement, and notices of violation (NOV) in connection with various clients’ operations in the South Coast Air Quality Management District. Negotiated settlement agreements resolving NOV’s on terms favorable for our clients. Successfully worked with SCAQMD personnel to limit damages related to specific NOV’s and deflect a Proposition 65 citizen suit threatened against both our client and SCAQMD. Communicated with United States Environmental Protection Agency air quality personnel to address alleged violations by clients’ facilities located throughout the United States. Advised clients regarding compliance requirements and successfully obtained necessary permits from Federal, State, and local agencies. Clients have included crane operators, large-scale nurseries, rendering facilities, nutritional supplement manufacturers, expanded polystyrene manufacturers, and more.

Water Quality

  • Worked with State and Regional Water Quality Control Boards on behalf of several clients. Coordinated with Board representatives to obtain no further action letters associated with allegedly contaminated properties. Representation often involved underground storage tanks and included successful prosecution of recovery claims from the Underground Storage Tank Cleanup Fund.
  • Represented numerous developers and large building owners in connection with Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board and Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board enforcement and permitting concerns.
  • Represented client in criminal defense of alleged violation of Porter-Cologne Water Quality Act and successfully plea bargained numerous alleged misdemeanor violations down to infraction status.
  • Assisted public entity clients with potential prosecution of citizen suit under Clean Water Act.

Other Regulatory Compliance

  • Worked with numerous Federal, State and local agencies including, but not limited to the EPA, DTSC, Integrated Waste Management Board, Public Utilities Commission, various RWQCB’s, various AQMD’s, California Coastal Commission, Department of Fish and Game, Certified Unified Program Agencies (CUPA), and others to achieve clients’ goals.

Eminent Domain and Inverse Condemnation

  • Assisted on several cases that resulted in favorable settlements and verdicts for clients whose properties and businesses were being condemned by various public entities.
  • Drafted successful appellate brief reversing jury verdict awarded against client while represented by other counsel. Appeal involved complicated inverse condemnation legal issues and result negated an award of more than one million dollars.
  • Assisted on the representation of the County of Los Angeles and several municipalities and redevelopment agencies in the Southern California area. Results included efficient and economical acquisition of target properties and/or property interests including obtaining a jury award less than the client’s initial written offer associated with a multimillion dollar claim.

Appellate Work

  • Representation of public and private entity clients at the appellate stage including, but not limited to, retention to file amicus briefs on significant environmental related issues. Worked closely with DOJ and EPA in defending CERCLA settlement challenges in front of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  Successfully reversed a jury verdict in excess of one million dollars which was awarded against a client who had been represented by other counsel at trial.

Email: BLanga@ddsffirm.com
Phone: (213) 624-8407  Ext. 141

EDUCATION

  • University of Washington School of Law, Seattle, Washington, J.D., 1998
  • Rice University, Houston, Texas, B.S., Environmental Engineering, June, 1995

COURT ADMISSIONS

  • California Bar, 1998
  • United States District Court, Central District of California, 1999
  • United States District Court, Northern District of California, 2000
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 2008

MEMBERSHIPS AND ASSOCIATIONS

  • Federal Bar Association, Litigation Section
  • Los Angeles County Bar Association, Environmental and Litigation Sections
  • National Business Institute, Speaker
  • International Right of Way Association, Chapter 1
  • California Waste Association (Former Chair of Los Angeles/Orange County Steering Committee)
  • Harbor Association of Industry and Commerce, Governmental Affairs Committee
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