Overview

Mike practices in the Environmental and Product Liability practice groups. He focuses his practice on environmental counseling and enforcement defense; environmental compliance analysis and planning in business transactions; and toxic tort litigation.

Mike served as partner-in-charge of the Cleveland office from 2003 to 2009.

Experience
Litigation
  • Defense of civil, administrative and criminal multi-media enforcement proceedings under the Clean Air, Clean Water, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Acts.
  • Participation in commercial arbitration proceedings, including the successful award of $68 million for a pharmaceutical company.
  • Common counsel for industrial group defendants in Superfund litigation (e.g., Dura Avenue Landfill in Toledo, Ohio).
  • Defense of numerous federal and state civil and criminal enforcement actions involving all environmental media (e.g., lead counsel in remedy phase, and one of the trial counsel in the liability phase of New Source Review Litigation under the Clean Air Act in United States of America, et al., v. Ohio Edison Company, et al., C.A. No C2-99-1181 (S.D. Ohio)).
  • Defense of national, statewide and regional class actions in federal and state courts (product liability and toxic tort). Kay Bettis, et al., v. Ruetgers-Nease Chemical Co., Inc., et al. (successful reduction in size and scope of class and eventual settlement of property damage claims arising from off-site migration of chlorinated hydrocarbon twenty-five miles downstream). Greg Stevens, et al., v. RMI Titanium Co., et al. (mediated settlement of 4,000 class member bodily injury and property damage case arising from industrial facility fire). Thomas Jones, et al., v. S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc., (203 F.R.D. 290) (N.D. Ohio 2001) (successful defeat of motion for certification of nationwide product liability class involving users of an EPA registered pesticide). In Re: Asbestos School Litigation, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of PA, Master File No. 83-0268 (successful settlement of national schools asbestos in buildings case). Central Wesleyan College v. W.R. Grace & Co., et al., U.S. District Court, District of South Carolina, Case No. 2:87-1860 (successful settlement of national college and university asbestos in buildings litigation). Sisters of Mary v. AAER Sprayed Insulation, Inc., et al. Circuit Court, Dane County, WI, Case No. 85-CV-5952 (successful defense of national hospital asbestos in buildings litigation).
  • Jury and bench trials, including product liability and CERCLA cost recovery and contribution actions (e.g., GenCorp v. Olin, Case No 5: 93CV 2269 (N.D. Ohio)).
  • Defense of citizen suits under RCRA, Clean Water Act, and Clean Air Act (involving rubber products manufacturing facility).
  • Defense of toxic tort cases brought against chemical manufacturers and municipal sewage sludge applicators alleging wrongful death, personal injury and property damage claims as a result of soil and groundwater contamination (Columbiana County, Ohio, and Stark County, Ohio).
  • Resolution of Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and RCRA Notices of Violation for a pharmaceutical and pesticides intermediate batch chemical plant.
  • Resolution of administrative proceedings alleging failure to provide timely notice of a release of toxic substances to the environment.
  • Defense of waste hauling companies in cases involving personal injury and property damage claims allegedly due to off-site migration of methane gas.
  • Representation of corporations and individuals in criminal investigation over alleged industrial waste disposal in navigable waterways and pre-treatment violations.
  • Defense of chemical and industrial manufacturers in workplace exposure cases.
  • Lead counsel in numerous administrative, licensing, adjudicatory and appellate proceedings before state and federal environmental agencies (e.g., solid waste landfill siting disputes).
  • Extensive experience with air and water pollution permitting for nuclear and coal fired electric generating plants and heavy manufacturing facilities.
  • Lead counsel for power plant and transmission line siting cases (e.g., Perry Nuclear Power Plant 345kV transmission lines).
  • Participation in power plant air pollution fumigation, long range transport, new source review, and prevention of significant deterioration cases.
  • Defense of environmental criminal cases involving excessive air pollution, illegal water discharge, and improper hazardous waste disposal claims.
  • Defense of pre-treatment plant bypass claims at a metal refinishing facility.
  • Defense of Clean Water Act Section 311 oil spill cleanup order in Toledo, Ohio.
  • Defense of product liability cases involving consumer and building products.
  • Defense of indoor air pollution, asbestos in buildings, sick buildings and mold cases.
  • Work with defense economic experts in consumer class action fraud cases.
  • Work with depositions and cross examinations of expert economists, endocrinologists, toxicologists, pharmacologists, epidemiologists, pathologists, and statisticians in pharmaceutical, life science, product liability and toxic tort cases, including cases involving environmental exposures, ingestion of hormonal therapies, and hazardous substances in buildings and work environments.
  • Work with the scientific literature regarding the causes and mechanisms of cancer.
  • Representation of an air pollution device manufacturer in coal fired power plant permitting cases involving hazardous air pollutants ("HAPs").
  • Lead role on a trial team involved with combined sewer overflows.
  • Defense of chemical manufacturing company in cases involving the allocation of liability for perchlorate contamination and alleged off-site contamination of drinking water wells.
  • Defense of a cost recovery action under Michigan Part 201 under the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act.
  • Lead trial counsel in fuel adjustment clause cost recovery administrative proceedings before the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio arising from claim the additional costs for using environmentally compliant out-of-state coal for electric generation.
  • Lead trial counsel in proceedings before the Power Siting Board regarding alleged claims of jurisdiction allegedly triggered by purported major modifications to the coal ash disposal facilities at a coal fired plant on the Ohio River.
  • Advised on the Power Siting jurisdictional issues raised by the conversion of a partially constructed nuclear facility to a coal fired electric generating plant.
  • Lead counsel for the experts (accounting, petroleum geology and economic) in a case in eastern Ohio involving the sale of nearly 29,000 acres to a third party exploration and production company, with the reservation of overriding royalties.
Transactions
  • Due diligence, site and regulatory compliance investigations, negotiation and strategic planning for significant corporate and real estate deals involving manufacturing, chemical, steel and pharmaceutical facilities.
  • Structuring environmental allocation and indemnity provisions in merger, acquisition and disposition agreements, real estate agreements, and project financing for metal powder product, chemical, circuit board, steel, manufacturing, foundry, pesticide, pharmaceutical, plastics, electrical generating peaker and co-generation facilities.
  • Advising buyers in evaluating and minimizing risks of acquiring real estate contaminated from neighboring operations.
  • Assisting purchasers in qualifying for and obtaining a covenant not to sue under Ohio Voluntary Action Program.
  • Helping property owner in complying with Pennsylvania Act 2.
  • Drafting and structuring environmental risk allocation provisions using insurance products.
  • Counseling property owners in brownfield redevelopment projects.
  • Advising property owners on wetland regulatory requirements.
  • Served as local counsel for an energy fund involved with the construction of a nearly 800 megawatt natural gas facility in Oregon, Ohio, including consultation on the Power Siting, air pollution, water pollution, wetlands, Department of Transportation, and endangered species aspects of the project.
  • Managed the real estate services for a solar energy project in south eastern Ohio.
Regulatory Counseling/Permitting

Counseling business entities regarding permitting and compliance requirements, including:

  • Hazard communication, community right-to-know, solid and hazardous waste handling, and toxic release reporting for manufacturing and chemical production facilities.
  • Underground storage tank closure and cleanup.
  • RCRA corrective action at foundries, and at manufacturing and chemical production facilities.
  • Hazardous air pollutants, including MACT, MON and LDAR requirements for pharmaceutical and pesticide industries.
  • New source review, prevention of significant deterioration, non-attainment offset and allowance trading requirements at power plants.
  • Landfill permitting and compliance monitoring.

Specific Industry Experience: aerospace, asphalt, automotive, building products, chemicals, circuit board manufacturing and laminates, construction, consumer products, electric utility (generation, transmission and distribution), engineered industrial products, foundries, landfills, life sciences, metal working, metal refinishing, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, plating, powdered metal products, rubber products, sewer utility, steel, tolling operations, waste management and wire manufacturing.

Publications
  • “The Cuyahoga River Makes News Again: A Postscript," American College of Environmental Lawyers blog, May 31, 2017
  • “The Cuyahoga River Makes News Again,” American College of Environmental Lawyers blog, May 11, 2017
  • “EPA Moving Forward With CERCLA Financial Responsibility Rules for Hardrock Mining Industry—More on the Way,” Thompson Hine Environmental Update, April 2017
  • "Who Moved My Cheese?" American College of Environmental Lawyers, August 30, 2016 
  • ”Score a Victory for Regional Storm Water Management,” American College of Environmental Lawyers, September 24, 2015
  • ”Look at What John Rockefeller Started," American College of Environmental Lawyers, September 15, 2015
  • “Who In 1975 Would Have Thought We Would Have an Oil Glut Today?”  American College of Environmental Lawyers, October 20, 2014
  • "EPA Finalizes Revised Effluent Limitation Guidelines for Construction Site Stormwater Discharges," Thompson Hine Environmental Update, April 7, 2014
  • "Storm Water Management by a Regional Sewer District: Was It a Power Grab or a Logical Extension of Existing Powers," American College of Environmental Lawyers, February 5, 2014
  • "Game, Set, Match," American College of Environmental Lawyers, April 2013
  • "Evolving Concerns Over the Prodigious Volumes of Water Used in Hydraulic Fracturing," American College of Environmental Lawyers, October 2012
  • "IRIS Needs a Makeover," American College of Environmental Lawyers, March 2012
  • "A Tug of War: How Can the State Satisfy Its Burden of Proof?", American College of Environmental Lawyers, September 2011
  • "A New Twist on Potential to Emit," American College of Environmental Lawyers, February 2011
  • Author, chapter, "Ohio Voluntary Cleanup Program," Matthew Bender Brownfields Law and Practice, with annual updates
  • Author, chapter, "Ohio Environmental Law," Matthew Bender Environmental Law Practice Guide, 2001
  • Editor, Ohio Environmental Law, published by Banks-Baldwin, 1992
  • Board of Advisors, The Environmental Counselor, 1989 to 2009
  • Editor in chief, Ohio Environmental Monthly, published by Banks-Baldwin, 1989 to 1994
  • Chapter author, The Art & Science of Environmental Law, published by Aspatore Books, 2004
  • Chapter author, Ohio Environmental Law Practice Manual
Presentations
  • Hosted panel on EPA proposed rules on the "Waters of the United States" for ACOEL, January 2015
  • Presentation to Chemical Industry CLE on energy conversion for mercury cell chlorine plant, December 2014
  • “Energy Exports," Annual Meeting of the ACOEL, October, 2013
  • "What's All the Fuss About Fracking," presentation to the Chemical Industry CLE Seminar, December 2012
  • "Is Fracking a Swear Word?", presentation to a special committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio, March 2012
  • "The Changing Climate of Global Warming Litigation in the United States," webinar jointly sponsored with the Gowlings firm (Canada) and Burges Salmon (U.K.), April 2008
  • "Environmental Issues Arising From Hydraulic Fracturing and Oil Sand Extraction," 2011
Distinctions
  • AV® Preeminent Rated by Martindale-Hubbell
  • Fellow, The American College of Environmental Lawyers
  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America, Environmental, for more than 25 years
  • Selected to the Ohio Super Lawyers list, Environmental, 2004 to 2017
  • Selected for inclusion in Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business, Natural Resources & Environment, Ohio, 2003 to 2017
  • Listed in Who's Who Legal: Environment, 2010 to 2015, 2017
  • Listed in The International Who's Who of Environmental Lawyers, 2015
  • Listed in The International Who's Who of Business Lawyers, 2014
  • Selected by American Lawyer media as a Top Rated Lawyer in Energy/Environmental, 2013
  • Named the Cleveland Environmental Lawyer of the Year by Best Lawyer, 2010
  • Named one of Northeast Ohio's Leading Lawyers (Environmental), Inside Business magazine, 2001 to 2010
  • Listed in Who's Who in America
  • Listed in Who's Who in American Law
                    Professional and Civic

                    Professional Associations

                    • Ohio Oil and Gas Association (OOGA), member
                    • Ohio State Bar Association, Chairman, Environmental Law Committee, 1987 to 1991
                    • Defense Research Institute, Chairman, Industry-wide Litigation Committee, 1989 to 1991
                    • Court of Nisi Prius
                    • United States Law Firm Group, co-chair, Environmental Committee, 1995 to 2004

                    Professional Activities

                    • Leadership Cleveland, Class of 2005
                    • Conservancy for the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Director, 2013-present
                    • Ohio and Erie Canalway Association, Director and Committee Chair, 2006-present
                    • Cleveland Water Alliance, Director and Secretary, 2013-2017
                    • John Carroll University, Board of Directors and Committee Chair, 2009-present
                    • University of Michigan Law School Dean's Development and Alumni Relations Committee, 2010-2017
                    • Cleveland State University Law School, Visitors Committee, 2003-2009

                    Corporate Boards

                    • John Carroll University Board of Directors, 2009-present
                    • John Carroll University Entrepreneurs, Association Chairman, 2011-2012
                    • Nature Center of Shaker Lakes, Board of Trustees, 2001-2009
                    • Canterbury Golf Club, Inc., Board of Directors, 2002-2005, 2014 - present
                    • National Club Association, Board of Directors, 2002-2012, Chairman 2011-2012
                    • NCA Foundation, Board of Directors, 2005-2016
                    • Trails Forever Legacy Leadership, Conservancy for the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, 2008-2013
                    News