Toxic Torts

Engstrom, Lipscomb & Lack has a long and successful history prosecuting mass torts on behalf of victims of toxic pollution. Our environmental litigation practice has included cases of groundwater, air and soil contamination. Sometimes referred to as “Toxic Tort Lawsuits,” these cases typically involve large numbers of individuals making claims against a “polluter,” usually a large company. In addition to representing individual persons who are victims, the firm represents corporations and governmental entities whose land and natural resources have been damaged from a variety of industrial activity.

We handle toxic tort litigation cases on a contingency basis and offer free consultations.

Engstrom, Lipscomb & Lack knows how to evaluate the scientific issues involved.

The liability producing events may have occurred decades ago and the persons responsible could be deceased or unavailable. Computerized modeling of contaminant levels in water, air and soil are necessary to prove these cases, often involving a large number of experts and scientific disciplines. We have extensive contacts with qualified experts in many scientific disciplines, which is critical to winning toxic tort cases.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Do I have a claim for exposure to a toxic substance?

We are all exposed to some small amount of chemicals in our daily lives. There are very small amounts of chemicals in our water and food supply. Our bodies tolerate these low “background levels.” But when a corporate polluter dumps a toxic chemical into the environment, this is a dangerous extra dose of toxins that can represent a threat to our environment and to our health. When people are exposed to such toxic chemicals over a long period of time, that extra exposure can result in serious illness, like cancer, or sometimes death. When that happens, a person has a legal right to make a claim for that injury.

My water provider says my water tests clean now. Do I still have a case?

You might. Regular testing of drinking water by water agencies is a relatively recent development. We can often prove estimated amounts of chemicals in your water before testing began. There are many other issues to evaluate. For example, water agencies do not test regularly. Spot testing proves very little. Most water providers also do not test for all chemicals. Some chemicals move to other locations with the movement of the groundwater. While it still depends on the facts of each case, a current water test does not prove much about historic chemical concentrations in the water.

How are cases like this handled?

Cases of this type are usually brought against the largest corporations in the world. These cases involve the expenditure of vast resources before completion. Sometimes the cases last for years, or even decades. This requires having a firm that is financially capable of “going the distance.”

These cases often require collaboration with other law firms having similar expertise. Since the stakes are so high in these cases, the risk is often spread among two, three or even more co-counsel law firms. Engstrom, Lipscomb & Lack currently has large toxic tort cases pending in several different states, involving many different Super Fund Sites.

Cases of this type are typically handled on a contingency fee basis, which means there is no cost to you if there is no recovery. In other words, the fee is “contingent” on a recovery.

If you think you have a claim for exposure to a toxic chemical, please call Engstrom, Lipscomb & Lack at 855-ELL-WINS or fill out or easy to use contact form to the right. All evaluations are free and completely confidential. In most cases, we will get back to you within 24 hours of the initial contact.

Toxic Tort Cases:

ABALO v. CHEVRON, et al.

Engstrom, Lipscomb & Lack represented 126 residents of Montebello, California, against 168 corporate and municipal dumpers of waste at the Oil Landfill, an E.P.A Superfund Site. Case settled for $10,500,000.00.


Engstrom, Lipscomb & Lack represented over 1,000 residents of 3 small villages in Peru for exposure to mercury vapor. Case settled confidentially after private arbitration.


Engstrom, Lipscomb & Lack represent as co-lead counsel, over 800 residents of Redlands, California against Aerospace giant Lockheed Martin for toxic pollution arising from Lockheed's dumping of TCE and Ammonium Perchlorate and contamination of the Redlands groundwater. Pollution occurred over 25 years as a result of classified rocket motor testing.


Engstrom, Lipscomb & Lack represented 650 residents of Hinkley, California against Betz Chemicals, the supplier of hexavalent chromium to PG&E. Case settled confidentially.


Engstrom, Lipscomb & Lack represented over 300 residents of San Gabriel Valley, California against approximately 100 corporate polluters and local water distributors for toxic pollution arising from dumping of solvents, ammonium perchlorate and other chemicals. Case settled confidentially.


Engstrom, Lipscomb & Lack represented over 900 people from Hinkley and Kettleman, California against Pacific Gas & Electric for exposure to hexavalent chromium in the air, water and soil. This case was a continuation of the case that was the subject of the hit movie Erin Brockovich starring Julia Roberts. Case was ultimately resolved for $295,000,000 after 10 years of litigation.


Engstrom, Lipscomb & Lack represented 10 personal injury and wrongful death plaintiffs in a groundwater contamination case against Aerojet General Corporation for exposure to TCE, NDMA, Vinyl Chloride and Perchlorate. After a 3 month trial, the jury returned a verdict of $15,000,000, with a finding of malice. Case then settled for a confidential amount.


Engstrom, Lipscomb & Lack represented 85 plaintiffs in personal injury and property damage case against Unocal for pollution of Avila Beach, California. Case settled confidentially.


Engstrom, Lipscomb & Lack represented, as co-lead counsel, 650 plaintiffs in personal injury case against Pacific Gas & Electric for toxic pollution from hexavalent chromium, which contaminated the groundwater of the small town of Hinkley, California. This case was the subject of the hit movie Erin Brockovich, starring Julia Roberts. Case was ultimately resolved for $333,000,000 after ten months of combined trials.


Engstrom, Lipscomb & Lack served as lead counsel for more than 800 plaintiffs exposed to hexavalent chromium permeating the air and water of Willits, California. This pollution was generated by a chrome plating company. Case settled confidentially.


Engstrom, Lipscomb & Lack represented, as lead plaintiff's counsel, more than 1,000 personal injury plaintiffs who were exposed to the refinery product Catacarb which covered the town of Martinez, California as a result of an oil refinery explosion. Case settled for $80,000,000.00.


Engstrom, Lipscomb & Lack represented 344 residents of Bethel, Connecticut against town of Danbury, Connecticut for toxic pollution arising from their municipal landfill. Case settled confidentially.


Engstrom, Lipscomb & Lack represent over 600 “downwinders” living south and east of seven nuclear reactors in Southeast Washington adjacent to the Columbia River. Victims were exposed for three decades to radioneuclide which escaped during the production of plutonium used during the Cold War.


Engstrom, Lipscomb & Lack represented State of New Mexico and Attorney General of New Mexico for damages in connection with contamination of State's natural resources as a result of toxic pollution from multiple corporate polluters. Case settled for approximately $10,000,000, which was one of the largest natural resource damage recoveries in the history of the State of New Mexico.