Landmark NYC Verdict Hailed as Socially Significant for Corporate Environmental Accountability
Greenberg Glusker today announced that Firm Partner Robert S. Chapman is a finalist for the 2010 Public Justice Trial Lawyer of the Year Award for his successful representation of New York City in a trial against Exxon Mobil Corporation. The City charged Exxon Mobil with poisoning it’s groundwater and drinking water supply with the gasoline additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE). After an 11-week federal court jury trial, which was the first of nearly 200 MTBE cases nationwide to go to trial, Chapman and his team obtained a $104.7 million compensatory damage award holding the oil company responsible for the groundwater contamination.
“In this highly complex, high-stakes and high-profile trial, Bob showed us how the art of the trial should be practiced,” said Norman H. Levine, Managing Partner of Greenberg Glusker. “This national recognition of Bob’s trial excellence and courtroom strength is richly deserved, and even more noteworthy because of the public interest issues.”
The October 2009 trial victory culminated a protracted battle with Exxon, which mounted a deep-pocketed defense including complex scientific and technical evidence designed to refute claims relating to the health effects of MTBE. The jury found Exxon liable for product liability for failure to warn the public about the dangerous nature of its product as well as trespass, public nuisance, and negligence.
Chapman served as co-counsel with attorney Victor Sher of Sher Leff, LLP, a San Francisco law firm, with overall case oversight by Susan Amron of the New York City Law Department, all of whom share in the nomination as finalists.
“The current oil outpouring in the Gulf adds greater resonance to the message our jury sent Exxon when they said a petroleum giant can’t get away with polluting the city’s water,” said Chapman. “I am grateful to Public Justice for its recognition and salute their action and commitment to public law and access to justice.”
Public Justice created and supports a nationwide network of trial lawyers to pursue precedent-setting and socially significant litigation in the public interest. Other nominees for the 2010 award handled cases involving the constitutionality of California prisoners’ health care and claims against Royal Dutch Shell Petroleum for environmental and human rights abuses in Nigeria. Public Justice will announce the winner of the Trial Lawyer of the Year Award on July 13, 2010 at its annual gala in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Chapman is a preeminent trial lawyer with an extensive track record of prevailing in high-profile matters. He has litigated entertainment cases in both trial and appellate courts for more than 30 years. He has obtained a number of multi-million dollar trial court awards, including an $80 million jury verdict, which is the largest ever obtained against a motion picture studio. His litigation skills transferred readily to the New York venue and contributed to this significant courtroom victory for cities and water utilities.