Expert Witness Services
in Environmental Geology and Engineering
In the increasingly complex arena of environmental litigation, LEA environmental experts understand the need to synthesize and communicate technical concepts and opinions. Lawyers and potentially responsible parties need experts with a combination of qualifications, experience, knowledge, and great communications skills.
- Who caused the contamination?
- Are people being exposed?
- Is it coming from a neighboring site?
There can be huge sums of money riding on the answers to these questions. Experts in technical fields must bridge the gap between law and science. Like a great professor, LEA environmental experts strive to communicate complex technical information to an audience of laypeople. Our experts in soil and groundwater contamination have earned a reputation for clear communication using data analysis and compelling technical illustrations. LEA environmental experts have advanced degrees in science and engineering and an average of 25+ years of experience in environmental practice. We employ an array of environmental forensic methods to dig deeper and help solve clients’ toughest problems.
Types of Environmental Disputes
Although there are numerous types of environmental disputes, most groundwater cases fall into one of two broad categories. One category is toxic torts, in which one or more parties allege health effects and/or property damage from chemicals released to the environment by another party. The other category is allocation cases, in which two or more parties disagree over who caused a release to the environment and how much money each party should contribute toward to the cleanup. LEA's soil and groundwater experts have worked on cases involving such issues as:
- Vapor Intrusion
- Class Action Lawsuits
- Personal Injury
- Toxic Torts
- Remediation Cost Allocation
- Property Devaluation
LEA environmental experts are past and present members of the Editorial Board of the academic journal, Environmental Forensics. Typical environmental investigations measure only a fraction of the chemical, physical and geological information really contained at a contaminated site. Environmental forensics unveils this hidden data to answer questions such as: when did the contamination occur? How did the contamination occur? Where did the contamination come from?
“The present is the key to the past”
James Hutton, one of the pioneers of geology, wrote these words over 200 years ago to describe the use of evidence available today, like fossils and sedimentary structures in rocks, to understand the environment millions of years ago when those rocks were being formed. Hutton’s wisdom is equally valid as a description of the emerging field of environmental forensics. After all, forensic science is the reconstruction of past events based on trace evidence that remains at the scene.
The need for an environmental forensics investigation is usually triggered by a discrete event such as toxic tort, or natural resource damages litigation, or the desire to allocate cleanup costs among multiple parties. Increasingly, environmental forensics techniques are also being applied to conventional projects (i.e. projects in which there are no formal disputes) due to the power of these techniques to provide insight into subsurface conditions, which ultimately leads to better decision-making and more efficient, less-costly remediation.
Environmental forensic methods can be divided into at least five categories:
1. Chemical fingerprinting
2. Stable isotope analysis
3. Environmental tracers
4. Data visualization, data mining and geostatistics
Dr. Everett brought a highly complex site to a swift and extremely beneficial closure and his forensic work resulted in a huge victory for my clients, and others as well, in an extremely significant matter.Chicago Law Firm