John Eldridge

Practices

Education and Clerkships

J.D., University of Texas at Austin School of Law, 1980, Senior Articles Editor, Texas International Law Journal

B.A., Rice University, 1975

Bar Admissions

District of Columbia

Texas

Court Admissions

United States Supreme Court

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas

Profile

John Eldridge has 30 years of experience in environmental litigation, transactions and regulatory practice, with an emphasis on Superfund, property contamination issues and environmental indemnities. 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. Enforcement defense, environmental 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.

Energy

Oil and Gas

Texas Appeals Court Favors Haynes and Boone Client in Superfund Suit

In a case of first impression, the firm secured a major appellate ruling that protects companies’ right to contest liability/cleanup orders issued pursuant to the Texas “Superfund” law, or Solid Waste Disposal Act.


Texas issued an enforcement order declaring the firm’s energy clients (and some 150 other parties) liable for cleaning up an abandoned oil recycling site in the eastern part of the state. The clients challenged the order in district court on several grounds.


The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (“TCEQ”) argued that the cleanup order must be reviewed under the highly deferential “substantial evidence on the record” standard, with the burden of proof on the challengers. But the Texas appellate court agreed with the firm’s clients and trial court that the TCEQ has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the companies are liable for the cleanup costs. The unanimous appellate decision followed the firm’s briefing and arguments in interpreting the statute.


The case represents a major victory for energy, manufacturing, chemical, and other companies who are frequent targets of Superfund orders. The TCEQ’s theory of the Texas Superfund law would have allowed the agency to declare parties jointly and severally liable for cleanup costs without any formal chance to present evidence in their defense. Under joint and several liability, a party responsible for less than 1% can end up paying 100%. With a clear right to challenge Agency action in district court, parties that are targeted under the Texas Superfund program will now have significantly greater leverage in dealing with the TCEQ and a real chance to disprove large liability orders.  

Chambers

Chambers USA | Haynes and Boone, LLP

Haynes and Boone Retains Strong Showing in Chambers USA 2016 Rankings

Haynes and Boone, LLP has again been honored in the annual Chambers USA 2016 directory. The widely-respected legal publication singled out 19 firm practice groups and 51 individual lawyers for recognition.


Published by Chambers & Partners in May 2016

Navigating Current Oil and Gas Markets

This series of energy industry alerts provides both oil and gas producers and bankers with timely information about distressed commodity prices and legal options to consider regarding credit agreements, restructuring debt, and potential defaults.

Selected Client Representations

  • Represented Bank of America in connection with $700 million secured term project financing for five Exelon power plants in Texas.
  • 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.
  • Represented a major port in stormwater permitting enforcement.
  • Advised a major drilling company on offshore liability and contract issues.
  • Represented lenders on the environmental issues in the refinancing of an inside-the-fence cogeneration facility in Freeport, Texas.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Obtained risk based closure certificate for large contaminated Houston industrial plant, allowing multi-million dollar asset sale by bankruptcy trustee.
  • Represented a major herbicide manufacturer in a West Coast arbitration.

Newsroom

Professional and Community Activities

  • 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.

Selected Publications and Speeches

  • "Navigating Uncharted Waters? Indemnities and Releases in Offshore Drilling Contracts Post-Macondo Litigation," Co-author with Jessica Rivera, Bloomberg Law Daily Environment Report, August 29, 2012.
  • "Sackett: Implications For Pre-Enforcement Review," Co-author with Megan Bibb, Law360, May 14, 2012.
  • "Limitations Considerations," with Jason Huebinger, Texas Lawyer, Jan. 25, 2012.
  • "Sufficient Cause to Just Say 'No'? CERCLA 106 Orders," Natural Resources & Environment, Volume 25, Number 3, Winter 2011.

Professional Recognition

  • Named in The Best Lawyers in America, Woodward/White, Inc., for Environmental Law, 2010-2016; Litigation - Environmental, 2012-2016
  • Selected for inclusion in Texas Super Lawyers, Thomson Reuters, 2004-2006, 2011-2015
  • Selected as a Leading Environmental Lawyer in Texas by Chambers USA, Chambers & Partners, 2004-2016
  • Martindale Hubbell® Law Directory with a Peer Review Rating of AV® Preeminent™

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