John Eldridge has 30 years of experience in environmental litigation and regulatory practice, with an emphasis on Superfund, property contamination and toxic tort litigation. He has argued several CERCLA appeals before the Fifth Circuit and tried cases in various courts.
John frequently represents buyers and sellers of contaminated properties and assists clients in assessing and addressing environmental risks associated with various business transactions. Internal investigations, environmental crimes, enforcement defense, Clean Water Act permitting and risk based "closure" certifications of contaminated real estate are also significant aspects of his practice. He advises clients on the property and liability issues associated with oil and gas drilling. Many of John’s clients are in the energy sector and John previously worked as in house counsel for a major oil company.
John has been engaged in such matters as the following:
- Won a five-week trial in a multiparty contamination case.
- Won summary judgment and appeal in a multiple-party nuisance/trespass action in Atlanta, Georgia involving wood treating chemicals.
- Advised a major drilling company on offshore liability and contract issues.
- Represent the metals recycling industry on air emissions issues.
- Advised an energy service company in acquisition involving contaminated properties in several states.
- Successfully argued several Fifth Circuit appeals of CERCLA liability issues, including statute of limitations.
- Advised a European client regarding major steel manufacturing acquisition.
- Resolved a toxic tort claim in Tennessee involving exposure to creosote.
- Represented an Asian buyer of a U.S. chemical company.
- Won a jury trial involving a shopping center in Houston contaminated with dry cleaning solvents.
- Resolved felony indictment of company for alleged Texas Water Code violations.
- Negotiated complex indemnity and cleanup agreement with the City of Houston involving a contaminated maintenance facility, allowing a multi-million dollar real estate acquisition to proceed.
- Defended and resolved toxic tort suit involving 1,300 plaintiffs.
- Assisted several companies by performing internal investigations of alleged criminal violations.
- Obtained risk based closure certificate for large contaminated Houston industrial plant, allowing multi-million dollar asset sale by bankruptcy trustee.
- Renegotiated the environmental responsibilities stemming from a major refinery and chemical plant transaction.
- Represented a major herbicide manufacturer in a West Coast arbitration.
Selected Publications and Presentations
Memberships and Community Involvement
- State Bar of Texas
- District of Columbia Bar
- American Bar Association
- Houston Bar Association
- Greater Houston Partnership Environmental Advisory Committee
- Awty International School (Former Board Member)
- French-American Chamber of Commerce (Board Member)
- Palmer Memorial Church
- United Way (Alexis de Tocqueville Society)
- DaCamera Music Society (Board Member)
- Rice University School of Humanities (Advisory Board Member)
- Old Braeswood Property Owners Association (President, 2010-2013)
- UT Law Alumni Keeton Fellow
- Alumni of St. Paul's School, Concord, N.H.
- Named one of the Best Lawyers in America in Environmental Law, 2010-2014 and Litigation - Environmental, 2012-2014
- Named a Texas "Super Lawyer" by Texas Monthly, 2004-2006, 2011-2013
- Selected as a Leading Environmental Lawyer in Texas by Chambers USA, 2004-2013
- Martindale Hubbell® Law Directory with a Peer Review Rating of AV® Preeminent™
Selected Representative Experience
Lyondell Chemical Co. v. Albemarle Corp., 464 Fed. App'x 295 (5th Cir. 2012)
In a Fifth Circuit appeal that ended almost two decades of litigation, successfully defended a district court's allocation under CERCLA of millions of dollars in costs incurred to remediate the "Turtle Bayou" Superfund site in Liberty County, Texas.
John Bailey, et al v. Cleveland G. Meredith, et al; No. 2007-CV-13812 (combined with Thompson v. Cleveland Meredith, et al; No. 2007-CV-134013)
Approximately 150 plaintiffs living near a wood treating facility of one of KMG’s customers in Atlanta, Georgia claimed emissions from the wood treating facility caused harm to their property, blaming KMG because it sold chemicals to the facility. After two years of discovery, the parties filed various motions for summary judgment. KMG’s motion for summary judgment was granted, and that ruling has been upheld on appeal. This constitutes a total victory for KMG.
Carter v. Ballard Sand and Gravel et al. (2003)
Represented a major energy company in a jury trial in Nueces County, Texas in a suit brought by approximately 40 families who claimed that a refinery waste disposal pit in their neighborhood caused personal injuries and property damages. The jury returned a verdict for the company following a trial of the claims of the "trial plaintiffs."
Achee v. Port Drum Co., 197 F. Supp. 2d 723, 735-36 (E.D. Tex. 2002)
Represented manufacturer in 1,200-plaintiff toxic tort and property contamination case brought in Beaumont, Texas. Case resulted in favorable summary judgment and settlements.
El Paso - Superfund
Represented El Paso in a major Superfund matter that was tried in federal court in Beaumont, Texas over many weeks.
Geraghty and Miller, Inc. v. Conoco, Inc., 234 F.3D 917 (Fifth Circuit)
Prosecuted a successful appeal on issues regarding statute of limitation and the definition of certain key terms under CERCLA, including 'operator' liability.
Robert Sanchez, et al. v. Sunoco, Inc., et al No. 03-61284-1 (In the County Court at Law No. One of Nueces County, Texas)
Represented three clients in property contamination cases in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Defense of Toxic Tort and Property Damage Claims
Represent a chemical company in defense of toxic tort and property damage claims in Atlanta, Georgia and Knoxville, Tennessee.
08/29/2012 - Navigating Uncharted Waters? Indemnities and Releases in Offshore Drilling Contracts Post-Macondo Litigation
In the litigation arising from the Macondo incident, the Court made groundbreaking rulings with respect to the enforceability of Transocean's and Halliburton Energy Services Inc.’s (Halliburton) indemnity agreements with BP Exploration and Production Inc. (BP). These rulings are significant, not only because of the media attention surrounding the Macondo incident, but also because the Court ruled for the first time that, under maritime law, an indemnity compensating a third party for claims arising out of gross negligence is enforceable, but only with respect to the compensatory damages portion of the claim.
05/14/2012 - Law360 Guest Article: Sackett: Implications For Pre-Enforcement Review
On March 21, 2012, the United States Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in Sackett v. EPA
(No. 10-1062) holding that the recipient of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) compliance order pursuant to the Clean Water Act (CWA) may seek pre-enforcement judicial review to challenge the EPA’s order.
01/25/2012 - Texas Lawyer Special Report: Limitations Considerations
Toxic-tort claims often arise from chemical releases or contamination and are thus combined with environmental claims, typically involving property damages and cleanup costs.
01/11/2011 - Sufficient Cause to Just Say “No”? CERCLA 106 Orders
A party who “without sufficient cause” refuses to comply with a CERCLA § 106 Unilateral Administrative Order (UAO) to perform remediation work may be fined up to $32,500 for each day of noncompliance.
03/25/2010 - More Proposed Regulation of Oil and Gas Operations: Greenhouse Gas Reporting and Changes to Air Permits
Over the last several years, the environmental agencies have increased their focus on air quality issues associated with oil and gas production activities. On March 23, 2010, both EPA and the TCEQ announced new proposals that would increase air quality regulation of the oil and gas industry.
05/05/2009 - Supreme Court Limits Superfund Liability – In Two Ways
The United States Supreme Court yesterday handed down its eagerly awaited opinion in the consolidated cases of BNSF v. U.S. and Shell Oil Company v. U.S., on the issues of arranger liability and joint and several liability under the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), or Superfund. On both issues, the Court ruled eight to one in favor of the potentially responsible parties, and those rulings should have positive repercussions for defendants in other cases involving these issues.