Steven H. Goldberg

Steven H. Goldberg

Partner

Steven H. Goldberg

Partner

Steven Goldberg has served as one of the leading go-to environmental litigation and compliance attorneys in California for over twenty five years.

Known as a strategic, tenacious and responsive advocate with exceptional communication skills, Steven negotiates and resolves complex disputes, often selected by other attorneys and their clients as common counsel or liaison counsel for multiple-party lawsuits. With a special focus on groundwater contamination and CERCLA matters, he has handled some of the largest contamination cases in California. He has won dismissals, handled appeals before the Ninth Circuit and settled dozens of cases through mediation. In such cases, Steven has worked with technical experts throughout the United States on MTBE, solvents, perchlorate, PCBs, asbestos and sediment contamination issues. Clients appreciate his ability to present complex environmental technical issues in a direct yet compelling manner.

Steven’s clients include Fortune 500 corporations with business interests in California and other regionally based publicly traded and private companies. He successfully represents and defends multi-million dollar actions, which include government enforcement, cost recovery claims, allocation litigation, toxic tort actions and multi-party contamination matters involving chemical and petroleum facilities, forest products and agribusiness companies, owners of large tracts of land, landfill and waste management companies, defense contractors, energy industry facilities, dry cleaners and public entities. Steven also provides compliance advice and counsel to many companies on regulatory issues and uses his extensive network of contacts in the state capitol to advise clients on cutting edge environmental issues.

Highlights

  • Garnered substantial savings for clients via the successful negotiation of cost recovery claims by the State of California and the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Defended the clients environmental contamination suit saving tens of millions of dollars in claimed damage.
  • Multi-million dollar recovery of client clean-up costs by pursuing allocation of costs to other potentially responsible parties.
  • Substantial transaction costs savings through streamlined discovery and accelerated settlement negotiations.

Experience

Environmental Litigation

San Diego Harbor Litigation and Sediment Remediation:
  • Regulatory and litigation counsel to a multinational defense contractor that operates at a shipyard in San Diego Harbor in a $70 million dollar clean up. The matter involved parallel administrative and federal court proceedings, including cost recovery and allocation litigation, insurance disputes and extensive mediation. The administrative proceedings involve a Clean Up and Abatement Order (CAO) for the largest proposed sediment remediation project in the San Diego Bay, and the first site where the Regional Board required an Environmental Impact Report. Some settlements were negotiated in multiple settlement conferences with the U.S. Magistrate Judge and court appointed mediator. Motions to approve settlements are currently pending before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.
Bulk Oil Storage Facility Litigation:
  • Recently obtained summary judgment and dismissal of a complaint for $350 million in damages against a Fortune 200 client that operates a large petroleum storage facility. The action involved a $60 million clean-up of MTBE and other petroleum product contamination by the client under the supervision of the California Regional Water Quality Control Board. The property owners claimed damages for the alleged loss of water resources and lost use of redevelopment profits. The court found no evidence of damages. The plaintiffs’ appealed to the Ninth Circuit. Appellate briefs have been filed and the appeal is pending.  
Perchlorate Contamination, San Bernardino County:
  • Steven is lead environmental counsel for a fireworks company at a U.S. EPA Superfund site involving perchlorate and solvent contamination. Multiple federal and state court actions were litigated in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California and Los Angeles County Superior Court. The action involved 25 potentially responsible parties, including defense contractors, property owners, several water purveyors and municipalities and the U.S. Department of Defense.  Alleged clean-up costs are in the $100 million range. The federal litigation was resolved through court approval of multiple Consent Decrees. Court proceedings involved appeals to the Ninth Circuit and U.S. Supreme Court. Parallel state court actions claiming damages to water supply wells are still pending in Los Angeles County.
Dry Cleaning Facilities and Shopping Center Contamination:
  • Steven has been lead counsel on the clean-up of dry cleaning facilities in many cities throughout California’s Central Valley. Frequently the matters have involved litigation in federal and state court.  Steven has handled cases for plaintiffs and defendants including property and shopping center owners, real estate corporations and public entities throughout the Central Valley of California. All matters involve working with governmental agencies.
Bulk Oil Storage Terminals Site, Yolo County:
  • Steven represents a Fortune 200 petroleum corporation at numerous facilities in California.  He is handling a multi-party investigation and remediation of Petroleum components MTBE (additive), and BTEX in soil and groundwater at a large bulk oil storage terminal and service station site in Central California. Steven assembled a team of technical and public relations experts to advise the client on regulatory compliance, UST Fund issues, community relations and remediation strategies. He successfully negotiated a cash-out agreement for the client with another PRP that includes a remediation management agreement. Steven worked with the client to develop one of the first Public Participation Plans approved by the Regional Water Quality Control Board.
Landfill Litigation:
  • Lead environmental counsel for publicly traded waste management company in defending a state court action regarding closure of a landfill in Northern California including writs before the Courts of Appeal.
  • Handled a CERCLA cost recovery and RCRA action for a national alternative energy company involving the disposal of waste from geothermal energy plants to a landfill in Imperial County. The litigation was favorably settled with the landfill owners and operators after expert presentations and settlement conferences with the U.S. Magistrate Judge.
Enforcement/Clean Water Act/Natural Resource Damage Claims:
  • Steven has defended civil enforcement actions brought by NGOs, state and federal government agencies and district attorneys. Recently, he led the environmental defense team in parallel state and federal enforcement actions involving the release of thousands of barrels of oil from an oil pipeline in the Los Angeles Region. The matter involved claims under the federal Clean Water Act and California Fish & Game Code 5650, and Unfair Competition status Business & Professions Code sec. 17200. The actions settled with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Department of Fish & Game. Steven has also worked closely with white collar criminal defense counsel on various environmental enforcement actions involving disposal of asbestos, pesticides, petroleum wastes, solvents, and other hazardous materials and wastes.
Proposition 65 Litigation:
  • Led the defense of clients in various lawsuits filed under California’s Proposition 65 statute for failures to warn and the alleged unlawful discharge to drinking water. Successfully defended the discharge actions which resulted in dismissal of the Proposition 65 action.

Environmental Remediation & Compliance 

Forest Products Company, Northern California Superfund Site:
  • Represented one of the largest privately held forest products companies on the West Coast, which owned 900 acres at and adjacent to the J.H. Baxter Superfund Site. Handled administrative proceedings and negotiations on allocation issues and negotiated with EPA Region IX concerning the RI/FS, and the Record of Decision.  Resolved various over-filing issues with the State of California, including permit issues that arose during the implementation of the remedy with the Regional Water Quality Control Board.  Obtained a technical impracticability waiver from EPA that substantially limited the scope of the remedy and reduced costs. Successfully resolved EPA's multi-million dollar claim for past costs in the first mediation with EPA Region IX’s Superfund Program.
Oil Recycling Site, Central California:
  • Successfully completed a $10 million clean up at an abandoned used oil recycling facility under a Unilateral Administrative Order issued by the EPA. Met all removal deadlines, and managed NCP compliance and community relations with the EPA.  Identified hundreds of additional responsible parties (including federal agencies) and allocated millions of gallons of waste volume not previously identified by the EPA. Substantially expanded the parties named to the Order, collected millions of dollars from other PRPs, and negotiated a final settlement with EPA on behalf of all settling PRPs.
National Publisher:
  • Environmental counsel for publicly traded national publisher with facilities in multiple states handling legacy liabilities, permitting, compliance, toxic tort and UST matters.

Professional, Community And Pro Bono Involvement

  • Vice President, California Bar Foundation
  • Member, Leonard M. Friedman Bar Association
  • Member, American Bar Association, Subcommittee on Environmental Litigation
  • Member, Sacramento County Bar Association, Environmental Law Section
  • Appointee (2011-present) Contemporary Groundwater Issues Council of California; sponsored by the Groundwater Resources Association of California
  • Member, Board of Trustees, Sacramento Theatre Company Foundation
  • Member, California Independent Oil Marketers Association (CIOMA) 
  • Former State Water Board Appointee, representing owners/operators of underground storage tanks on a 15 member State Water Resources Control Board Task Force on the Underground Storage Tank Clean Up Fund
  • Former Professional Staff Member for California State Senate Majority Leader's Office; Staff Assistant for the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Subcommittee handling RCRA, CERCLA and transportation issues
  • Past President, Congregation B’nai Israel, Board of Trustees; Capital Campaign, Co-Chair
  • Past Vice President, Sacramento Theatre Company Board of Trustees 
  • Former Editorial Board and Contributing Editor, California Environmental Law and Remediation Reporter

Honors And Rankings

  • Sacramento Business Journal, Best of the Bar, 2015-2016
  • Super Lawyers, Northern California Super Lawyer - Environmental Litigation, 2006-2016
  • Sacramento Magazine, Top Lawyer, Environmental, 2016
  • Selected by clients and peers as a leading environmental lawyer by Who’s Who Legal: Environment 2014

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