123974_edited.jpg

Christopher 'Smitty' Smith

download.png

Chris advocates for and advises clients in matters involving issues of contracts, environment, insurance, real estate, and products liability. Chris’s advocacy includes prosecution and defense of claims through trial in both state and federal court. His advisory work includes real estate transactions, commercial agreements, industrial health and safety considerations and compliance, and product advertising and labeling.

 

Representative Experience: 


Represented commercial and residential property owners and developers, consultants, metal manufacturers and recyclers, aerospace equipment manufacturers, automobile parts manufacturers, pesticide manufacturers and distributors, and transportation companies in negotiations with U.S. EPA, U.S. ACE, DTSC, DPR, various RWQCB, and the SCAQMD. Issues involved permitting, reporting, compliance, and liability based on CERCLA, RCRA, CWA, NEPA, CEQA, OPA, and the National Marine Sanctuaries Act.

 

Leveraged California legal authority on contractual obligations against opposing parties to compel funding of a seven-figure settlement as well as the selection and payment of preferred defense counsel.
Second-chaired a successful nine-day federal jury trial involving claims of fraud and breach of contract against a reality television star resulting in a seven-figure jury verdict.

 

Defended product manufacturers, suppliers, and retailers in Proposition 65 product liability actions prosecuted by citizen-enforcers by challenging pleadings, leveraging fact- and expert-discovery burdens, prosecuting summary judgment motions, and utilizing regulatory contacts to identify non-litigation resolution options for clients.


Representative Experience (all experience):
 

Environmental

 

  • Prosecuted CERCLA cost recovery claims for residential real property developer against consultants responsible for the redevelopment grading and resultant environmental contamination.

  • Guided airway and railway logistics companies on environmental compliance issues raised by industrial operations.

  • Represented a construction aggregate mining company in federal Clean Water Act citizen suit for alleged non-compliance with NPDES permit terms.

  • Petitioned SCAQMD for variance from risk reduction plan regulating industrial facility’s emissions of hexavalent chromium to provide for additional time to implement necessary risk reduction measures.

  • Drafted appellate briefing to Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on complex environmental liability statutes applicable to environmental cost recovery claim that was summarily adjudicated by the district court on disputed factual issues.

  • Counseled an international precious metals refiner on environmental regulatory compliance issues raised by importation of products into the United States and California.

  • Litigated CERCLA, RCRA, and common law environmental claims related to soil and groundwater on behalf of a railroad resulting in dismissal of a public nuisance claim based on motion to dismiss.

  • Represented an oil and gas pipeline company in litigation involving access to mineral rights.

  • Prosecuted and defended CERCLA cost recovery claims on behalf of a railroad company against prior tenants and surrounding property owners for environmental contamination around the United States.

  • Served as outside environmental counsel to a railway transportation company to address environmental-related administrative, regulatory, and litigation matters that arise at the federal and state levels in California.

  • Handled administrative appeal of environmental regulations impacting MS4 NPDES permittee resulting in holding of regulations in abeyance until further environmental review can be conducted.

  • Litigated a Clean Water Act citizen suit on behalf of a county in Southern California, including filing of motion to dismiss suit based on wholly past defense, resulting in nominal settlement for the county.

  • Appealed a conditionally approved risk reduction plan to SCAQMD hearing board to address inconsistencies presented in conditions imposed by regulatory agency.

  • Guided a Fortune 500 Company on navigating California thermal emittance standards for insulation, roofing, and composite products.

  • Counseled a railroad transportation company on regulatory dealings with federal and state environmental regulators addressing concerns over environmental impacts at properties around the country.

  • Represented a collection of real property owners in defending and prosecuting federal and state environmental claims for soil and groundwater contamination.

  • Counseled a public utility on issues of environmental regulatory compliance for business operations around Southern California.

  • Represented a public utility, commercial real property owners, and a national theme park in environmental regulatory dealings with federal and state regulatory agencies and in litigation matters arising under federal and state environmental statutes.

  • Guided industrial facilities through NPDES permitting and compliance.

  • Represented commercial and residential property owners and developers, consultants, metal manufacturers and recyclers, aerospace equipment manufacturers, automobile parts manufacturers, pesticide manufacturers and distributors, and transportation companies in negotiations with U.S. EPA, U.S. ACE, DTSC, DPR, various RWQCB, and the SCAQMD. Issues involved permitting, reporting, compliance, and liability based on CERCLA, RCRA, CWA, NEPA, CEQA, OPA, and the National Marine Sanctuaries Act.

 

Insurance

 

  • Advise university about risk-mitigation and insurance considerations related to various insurance lines held by the university.

  • Prosecuted insurance recovery claims for apartment building owner against 10 insurance companies resulting in eight-figure settlement.

  • Leveraged California legal authority on contractual obligations against opposing parties to compel funding of a seven-figure settlement as well as the selection and payment of preferred defense counsel.

  • Dismissed through successful motion practice a federal action brought by insurance company against behavioral health company securing paid-for insurance defense counsel through resolution of the civil action.

 

Litigation 

 

  • Managed team of attorneys prosecuting contract-based claims for large public pension fund, including management of complex fact- and expert-discovery, discovery motion practice, pre-trial preparation and motion practice, and defense of dispositive motions.

  • Second-chaired a successful nine-day federal jury trial involving claims of fraud and breach of contract against a reality television star resulting in a seven-figure jury verdict.

  • Drafted briefing and argued fact-discovery motion to compel resulting in five-figure sanctions award for client.

  • Challenged and successfully removed default judgment against client for alleged violations of Cal/OSHA workplace safety regulations by litigating merits of default judgment in court.

 

Real Estate 

 

  • Advised commercial real estate developer on environmental representations and warranties in asset purchases to minimize or eliminate associated environmental liabilities.

  • Defended commercial real estate property owner in eminent domain property valuation dispute through dispositive motion practice where preferred property valuation was adopted by the court.

  • Advised a property owner on obtaining closure for soil contamination at and around an apartment complex.

 

Products Liability/Proposition 65

 

  • Defended product manufacturers, suppliers, and retailers in Proposition 65 product liability actions prosecuted by citizen-enforcers by challenging pleadings, leveraging fact- and expert-discovery burdens, prosecuting summary judgment motions, and utilizing regulatory contacts to identify non-litigation resolution options for clients.

  • Counseled renewable energy company on product warning compliance issues arising out of Proposition 65.

  • Defended a natural gas regulator manufacturer from products liability claims in state court resulting from explosion.

  • Guided food flavoring company on environmental regulations implicated by operations in California.

  • Advised distributors of consumer products on necessary warnings under Proposition 65.

 

Presentations:

  • Proposition 65: MORE New Regulations, Labeling Requirements and Significant Case Developments (January 2020), Pillsbury CLE Marathon

  • Prop. 65: Revised Warnings One Year Later and Developments in PFOA/S, Acrylamide, Glyphosate, and Soluble Nickel (July 2019), Strafford Webinar

  • Assessing, Managing, and Forecasting Environmental Liability…Once Considered Settled and Closed (November 2018), CHWMEG Fall Meeting

  • Prop. 65 Revisions: Liability Allocation, New Safe Harbor Warning, Internet Warnings (July 2018), Strafford Webinar

  • CERCLA Actions and Statute of Limitations: Navigating the Circuit Split, Lessons From Recent Decisions (July 2018), Strafford Webinar

  • The Coal Ash Rule: Looming Battles Over Enforcement and Rollback (October 2017), Steptoe Webinar

  • Recent Updates to CERCLA (May 2017), CHWMEG Annual Meeting

  • Clean Water Act Citizen Suits: Defense and Litigation Strategies (March 2017), Strafford Webinar

  • CERCLA Actions and Statute of Limitations: Navigating the Circuit Split, Lessons From Recent Decisions (February 2017), Strafford Webinar

  • An Update on Aerial Emissions and CERCLA Liability (November 2016), CHWMEG Fall Meeting

  • Air Emissions from a Recycling Facility May be the Basis for an Entirely New Wrinkle for CERCLA Liability (May 2016), CHWMEG Annual Meeting

  • Joint and Several Liability is the Future of the Clean Water Act (December 2015), NACWA Webinar

  • Preparing for E-Scrap’s Unexpected (September 2015), E-Scrap Conference

  • Risk Management Concerns in the eWaste Processing & Recycling Sector (April 2015), Environmental Show of the South


Publications (reverse chron order):

  • California Court Finds that Proposition 65 Cancer Warnings for Glyphosate Violate First Amendment Rights (July 2020), Pillsbury Client Alert

  •     The Evolving Argument Surrounding Federal Preemption of Proposition 65 (June 2020), Pillsbury Client Alert

  • California Executive Power and Industrial Facilities in the Wake of Covid-19 (March 2020), Pillsbury Client Alert

  • Proposition 65 – Actual Knowledge & Warning Obligations under Recent Amendments (January 2020), Pillsbury Client Alert

  • Proposed Changes to Proposition 65’s Regulations Could Further Clarify Warning Obligations (October 2019), Pillsbury Client Alert

  • California Enacts New Labeling and Disclosure Requirements for Cleaning Products (October 2017), Steptoe Client Alert

  • Revisions to Prop. 65 Warning Requirement (September 2016), Steptoe Client Alert 

  • Court Leaves Cracks for ‘Aerial Emissions’ Liability under CERCLA (August 2016), Los Angeles Daily Journal 

  • A New Basis for CERCLA Liability? (March 2016), Los Angeles Daily Journal 

  • The Economics of E-Waste and the Cost to the Environment (Fall 2015), Natural Resources & Environment Magazine 

  •     Sustainable Land Application of Sewer Sludge as a Biosolid (Winter 2014), Natural Resources &

  • Environment Magazine

  • Circuits Say CERCLA Contribution Available for State Law Liability (August 2013), Los Angeles Daily Journal

  • New Clean Water Act Decision Raises Defense Concerns (July 2013), Los Angeles Daily Journal

  • Court Says Clean Water Act Permit Reviews Cannot Be Compelled (May 2013), Los Angeles Daily Journal 

  • EPA Legislation by Memo Comes Under Fire (March 2013), Los Angeles Daily Journal 

 

Professional Highlights:

  • Best Lawyers, Ones to Watch, Environmental Law (2022)

  • Super Lawyers, Southern California Rising Star (2018-2020)

 

Published Decisions:

  • City of Arcadia v. Dow Chemical Company, 2021 WL 3206806 (C.D. Cal. 2021)

  • Regents of the University of California v. U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security, 908 F.3d 476 (9th Cir. 2018)

  • Voggenthaler v. Maryland Square, LLC, 724 F.3d 1050 (9th Circ. 2013)

  • KFD Enterprises, Inc. v. City of Eureka, 2012 WL 6554097 (N.D. Cal. 2012)

  • Heim v. Estate of Heim, 2012 WL 993681 (N.D. Cal. 2012)

 

Education:

  • J.D., Seattle University School of Law, 2007, cum laude

  • B.S., San Diego State University, 2003

  • Bar Admissions: California
     

Court Admissions & Clerkships:

  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of California

  • U.S. District Court, Central District of California

  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California

  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of California

  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

Insights:

  • CERCLA Actions and Statute of Limitations: Navigating the Circuit Split and Lessons from Guam v. United

  • States (June 2022), Strafford Webinar

 

Professional Affiliations:

 

  •     Los Angeles County Bar Association, Environmental Section, Executive Committee (2010 – Present)

  •     Los Angeles County Business Federation, Environmental Executive Committee Member (2021)


Pro Bono:

  •     Kids In Need of Defense (2016 – Present), Advocate


Extracurricular Activities:

 

  •     Enjoying time with his wife, 4 children, and family dog.

  •     Traveling and surfing with his family at breaks around the world.