Goldberg Segalla LLP

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Goldberg Segalla’s environmental lawyers’ number one priority is to provide sound, strategic solutions to the problems and challenges our clients face. Our practice encompasses the full spectrum of federal, state, and local environmental laws and regulations and their impact on real estate, business and lending transactions, and business operations. With extensive experience helping clients navigate the complexities of environmental laws and regulations at every level, Goldberg Segalla’s attorneys balance your business’s environmental responsibilities with the expectations you set and the goals you aim to achieve.

We offer services ranging from regulatory compliance counseling to crisis response and the management of environmental liabilities in corporate, real estate, and financial transactions. Our clients — landowners, oil and gas companies, chemical and product manufacturers, construction contractors and subcontractors, real estate developers, lenders, insurers, and public and private entities — rely on us for our thorough understanding of the laws and regulations on the federal, state, and local level. Our environmental attorneys provide you with practical business-oriented advice on the basis of existing and anticipated legal requirements, and regulatory practice.

Our environmental team provides guidance and protection to clients on many different environmental fronts:

Environmental Land Use and Development
Our attorneys are skilled at helping to bring redevelopment projects to fruition. We assist our clients in every stage of brownfield redevelopments – from acquisition and financing to remediation and development. We participate in the planning, negotiating, permitting, funding, remediating, constructing, insuring, and redeveloping of environmentally impaired properties. It is also critical to understand the various programs that require developers and others to obtain land use permitting approvals. Our attorneys understand the programs and have significant experience in addressing the many issues that may arise during the permitting process. We regularly assist our clients in obtaining various state, federal, and local permits and approvals for coastal, waterfront, and wetlands development, and flood hazards. Our attorneys also are experienced in obtaining and advising our clients about compliance with complex operational permits, including those for solid waste, hazardous waste and landfills, ground water, surface water and storm water discharges, sewage connections and treatment, air emissions, and recycling.

Regulatory Compliance and Risk Management
Our advice on regulatory compliance and risk management has allowed our clients to avoid fines, violations, and penalties, as well as costly litigation and administrative hearings. We have developed comprehensive audit programs and environmental management systems for entire industry sectors and have achieved significant savings for our clients – more than $50 million in fines avoided – while also providing valuable guidance to ensure continued compliance. We have extensive experience with EPA’s Self-Audit Policy, having continually guided participants through the agency’s intensive audit and disclosure process and helping them minimize risks to human health and the environment. We help our clients develop strategies for addressing compliance issues to ensure environmental safety and adequately respond to government inspections and enforcement actions.

Environmental Risks in Business and Real Estate
Our environmental attorneys represent clients in all types of transactions, including the buying and selling, refinancing and redevelopment of real property, as well as corporate asset and stock transactions. Our team can identify and assess the risks and liabilities in transactions and how to structure deals to achieve our clients’ objectives. We routinely provide advice to our clients in the areas of conducting and assessing environmental due diligence, drafting purchase and sale documents, and strategizing to reduce environmental exposure. We also advise lenders and borrowers on environmental matters arising from default and foreclosure, including lender liability protection under federal and state law and the application of permits and approvals from governmental authorities to address construction and development issues.

Environmental Crisis Management
Crisis management starts well before a crisis. Prevention and preparedness are the keys to mitigating the risk and effects of any environmental crisis. Goldberg Segalla’s team of environmental lawyers apply years of experience in compliance counseling and risk mitigation to help our clients anticipate, avoid, and prepare for environmental crises. We assist in assessing crisis risks in corporate planning sessions; develop and advise on contingency plans and response measures; act as outside counsel during mock company simulations and drills; and help companies develop training materials, emergency action plans, and media strategies. Even the best-prepared companies, however, will experience crises. From the outset of an environmental crisis, the Goldberg Segalla team is well-versed in responding to and managing environmental, toxic tort, and similar catastrophic events. We focus on securing safety and security as soon as possible; directly engaging regulators, officials, and stakeholders in effective and appropriate ways; maintaining integrity of evidence and facts; tracking and mitigating response costs, fines and damages; and dialoguing in a civil and respectful manner with stakeholders and community members to resolve the crisis.

Climate Change
The reality of climate change is becoming ever more apparent as extreme weather events become more common and science is increasingly able to link these events to greenhouse gas emissions. As weather events become more extreme, so do the impacts on industries from insurance to construction and from agriculture to energy. Legal and regulatory impacts will be far-ranging. In the legal realm alone a new generation of climate change-related lawsuits have been filed. Through our team of experienced environmental attorneys who understand the science behind climate change, Goldberg Segalla intends to be a leader in helping our clients prepare for and respond to any climate change-related issues. Whether that assistance involves insurance coverage, environmental litigation, or regulatory preparedness, we have the experience to stay out in front of this rapidly changing field.

Hydraulic Fracturing
As high-volume hydraulic fracturing opens up the potential to tap into vast natural gas resources, public and private businesses are discovering a wealth of opportunities — as well as a host of new legal and regulatory challenges. Drawing from our breadth of experience, we provide proactive advice to help clients manage the risks associated with this potential new era of domestic energy exploration and production, as well as guide them through complex municipal and regulatory issues or protect their interests in the event of a dispute, accident, or claim.

Cost Recovery
We assist clients in analyzing their potential cleanup liability and examine how that liability might be spread among multiple sources, including insurance carriers, prior owners and/or operators, and other stakeholders who may have a relationship to the environmental conditions at issue. We also assist clients in evaluating the availability of remedial funding through loan and grant programs, including those that may be subsidized by government entities. We are experienced in negotiating allocation and cleanup cost-sharing between the various stakeholders. Other times, the only recourse may lie in pursuing environmental litigation under state or federal law.

Environmental Litigation
Our environmental attorneys handle all phases of civil litigation, enforcement and penalty actions, and administrative proceedings on environmental issues. Our team has extensive experience handling complex environmental cases in federal, state and administrative courts. We have litigated claims involving The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), The Clean Water Act (CWA), The Clean Air Act (CAA), various state statutes, wetlands, wastewater, solid waste, natural resource damages, renewable energy, pipelines, and insurance coverage. Often our attorneys engage in alternative dispute resolution in an attempt to resolve environmental disputes in lieu of litigation. Litigation sometimes is unavoidable. In those instances, we approach the many facets of litigation, including discovery, motion practice and ultimately trial, with an effective plan that serves to reduce both the concerns of our clients and the cost of litigation.

We also routinely represent clients in cases involving claims to recover costs incurred in remediating contaminated sites by and against the government and/or private parties; diminution in value and stigma damages resulting from environmental contamination; natural resource damage (NRD) claims asserted by federal and state trustees; contract claims regarding responsibility for contamination; environmental enforcement actions by the federal, state, and local government authorities; and insurance coverage for cleanup costs and costs incurred in defending environmental actions.

Solid/Hazardous Waste
Our expertise in the federal RCRA and its state equivalents has enabled us to assist our clients in the area of waste management, ensuring compliance with the relevant regulations while balancing often competing commercial interests. We provide advice on the entire spectrum of RCRA compliance issues, including regulatory exemptions, required permits and approvals, and how a facility can most cost-effectively comply with regulations. Further, we have abundant experience in representing clients in administrative enforcement proceedings as well as in RCRA citizen suits, frequently obtaining early settlements or favorable dispositions.

Underground Storage Tanks
Storage tank cases often involve unique factual, technical, and legal issues, including complex hydrogeological factors, and turn on both statutory presumptions and contract interpretation. We have handled numerous cases involving storage tanks, including cases involving abandoned tanks left behind decades earlier by prior owners, as well as tanks that have been improperly removed and/or improperly filled. We counsel our clients with respect to the related federal, state, and local ordinances, rules, and regulations.

Along similar lines, our environmental counseling services include working with dischargers and their consultants tasked with the cleanup of various types of environmental contamination in preparing and presenting investigation and remediation plans to federal and state agencies while seeking to limit our client’s financial exposure. We not only aggressively defend these matters but actively seek contribution for the cost of cleanup and remediation against a prior owner or other party who actually caused or contributed to a discharge.

Cannabis is currently the fastest-growing industry in the United States, and the environmental laws and regulations that are implicated by the legalization of cannabis for medicinal and recreational purposes are vast. Given the lack of consistency in marijuana regulation on the federal and state level, and the often disparate laws between states on marijuana cultivation and production, we help business navigate the morass by ensuring their operations comply with state and municipal regulations pertaining to land use, water use, and the application of pesticides and rodenticides. We are committed to helping our businesses balance their commercial interests with the patchwork of various state and local laws and regulations.

Emerging Unregulated Contaminants
Our environmental litigation team remain leaders of the national discussion involving key emerging environmental risks as they relate to unregulated contaminants, notably per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and 1,4-Dioxane. These two contaminants in particular have captured the nation's attention, including the plaintiff's bar. Our litigation team constantly tracks the jurisdictional trends taking shape with federal and state guidance/regulations of these emerging contaminants. We understand the contaminants and the science, the potential exposure routes, and the plaintiff’s bar’s innovative techniques, and have developed strong and strategic defenses. Our attorneys also offer advice to clients with respect to complex compliance issues as certain states have set maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) and we anticipate many other states will follow suit.

Environmental Insurance
Our environmental attorneys have advised and litigated on behalf of our policyholder clients in the environmental insurance coverage area as part and parcel of assisting clients in managing their environmental liabilities. We routinely advise clients on procuring “new” environmental insurance policies to address known and unknown risks. We have experience negotiating the terms of these environmental policies to craft solutions to specific problems, which can allow for disputes to be settled and transactions to occur. We are also experienced in the claims process under the policies to obtain coverage for the covered risks. Our attorneys have spearheaded many successful insurance claims for environmental liabilities, including site remediation costs, under older general liability policies. While our initial emphasis is to resolve these claims through negotiated settlements, our attorneys have successfully litigated to obtain coverage.

Representative Matters
  • Defended municipality in citizen suit involving violations of the Clean Water Act and alleged nitrogen exceedances at city's wastewater treatment plant.
  • Defending manufacturer and property owner at one of the largest Superfund sites (Passaic River) in the U.S. with respect to sediment contamination at multiple sites.
  • Defended Fortune 500 company — whose subsidiary designed and manufactured USTs, piping, and leak detection system under a large commercial shopping center — in a petroleum discharge matter involving damage to the environment, real property, and the surrounding community.
  • Defended Fortune 100 Company in CERCLA/Superfund action involving environmental contamination from tannery in upstate New York.
  • Acted as counsel to environmental testing professionals at Nassau Coliseum in matters involving alleged airborne chemical exposure.
  • Represent multinational chemical company in train derailment investigation in Wisconsin where local water supply was threatened.
  • Represent the interests of a well-drilling company in Oklahoma involving a pipeline leak and resultant contamination to environment and waterways.
  • Defended national storage facility owner in NJ Spill Act cost recovery action involving historic contamination and eminent domain and condemnation issues.
  • Represent national recycling company in CERCLA cost recovery action involving CRT waste disposal at e-waste recycling facility in Ohio.
  • Defended licensed applicators in spray drift matter in Missouri involving alleged property damage from herbicide/pesticide overspray.
  • Represented interests of school system involving historic environmental contamination and alleged exposure at site in upstate New York.
  • Dismissal of action on behalf of gasoline station/property owner involving allegations of groundwater contamination to New York municipality's drinking water supply; upheld by the Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division.
  • Served as counsel for multi-national corporation in RCRA suit filed by Illinois municipality involving former wood treatment facility where site is being redeveloped.
  • Successfully defended strip mall owner against suit filed by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency stemming from the release of PCE and other VOCs from former dry cleaner facility allegedly impacting drinking water supply.
  • Defended class action against herbicide manufacturer in Illinois alleging water contamination due to herbicide runoff as well as groundwater/aquifer contamination due to prolonged persistence of chemical in soil.
  • Defended supplier of cleaning chemicals following improper mixture and spill of chemicals at food processing plant in North Carolina.
  • Defended claims involving soil and groundwater contamination and oversaw remediation of land used for historical oil and gas operations in Louisiana.
  • Defended natural gas company against claims stemming from well drilling, impacting residents in Pennsylvania.
  • Represented environmental consulting firm in Pennsylvania involving migration of contaminants from adjacent property from above-ground storage tanks.
  • Defended well owner/operator in Pennsylvania relative to hydraulic fracturing operations that included contamination of underground water supply and property damage claims.
  • Defended environmental consulting firm regarding issuance of Phase I and Phase II reports concerning construction of residential development at former creosote factory in Pennsylvania.

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  • 5.0/5.0 Review for John M. Allen by a Associate on 05/04/16 in General Liability

    John is an excellent civil defense attorney. Most importantly, he seeks resolutions that are fair to the parties. This is a trait not often found in litigation matters. Given that John and I were on opposite sides of the fence in a recent case, my... Read more

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    John is an excellent civil defense attorney. Most importantly, he seeks resolutions that are fair to the parties. This is a trait not often found in litigation matters. Given that John and I were on opposite sides of the fence in a recent case, my comments stem from personal knowledge of this gentleman. Read less

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    Mike is an excellent attorney, a strong client advocate and worthy adversary.

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Both within our own firm and across the wider business and legal communities, Goldberg Segalla’s commitment to diversity is strong, sincere, and a critical component of our firm’s mission and culture. Our philosophy has always been that we hire people who are excellent at what they do, and even better human beings. Period. We feel we would be doing a disservice to our firm and to our clients if we didn’t include contributions from every available resource.

We are extremely proud that our commitment has received regional and national recognition for the innovative programs we have developed and the results we have been able to achieve. The following is a sampling of the firm-wide or individual honors we have received for implementing initiatives that make a difference:

  • George B. Vashon Innovator Award, Minority Corporate Counsel Association
  • MCCA Firm Affiliate Network
  • Vault/MCCA Commitment to Diversity
  • Community Service Award, Defense Research Institute
  • Good Works Award, American Bar Association Section of Litigation
  • Outstanding Committee Chair, ABA Section of Litigation
  • Diversity Trailblazer Award, New York State Bar Association
  • Legal Service Award, Minority Bar Association of Western New York
  • Lawyer of the Year, Bar Association of Erie County
  • Legal Community Leader Award, National Federation for Just Communities of Western New York
  • Diversity Excellence Award, Buffalo Niagara Human Resource Association
  • Value Award for Diversity, Leadership Buffalo
  • Western New York Game Changers, Buffalo Spree magazine

What we are most proud of, though, is that our efforts have shown significant results and continue to make a lasting impact on the lives of many.

Leadership and Action

To put our philosophy and commitment into practice, we have a Diversity Task Force, which includes our managing partner, in place to conceptualize and implement diversity-focused programs as well as give diversity a voice in our decision-making at the highest level. The individuals on this task force share the firm’s strong commitment to increasing diversity, and they use their unique experiences and backgrounds to support and advance that goal. The team meets regularly to create programs, schedule events, establish diversity initiatives both inside and outside of the firm, set long-term goals, and develop the strategy to recruit and retain people from diverse backgrounds.

The chair of our Diversity Task Force, Joseph M. Hanna, has spearheaded numerous diversity initiatives in various organizations and outreach programs, serves on several diversity-related committees, and is a frequent author and speaker on diversity. Among other positions, he is co-chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) Young Lawyer Leadership Program, former chair of the association’s Minority Trial Lawyer Committee and its Special Committee on Human Rights, and former editor-in-chief of the ABA’s Minority Trial Lawyer; a 2014 fellow of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD); a past president of the Minority Bar Association of Western New York (MBAWNY) and the MBAWNY Foundation; and the Diversity Liaison for several committees at the 22,000-member DRI.

For more than a decade, Goldberg Segalla has proudly supported the ABA’s Judicial Internship Opportunity Program, which provides racial and ethnic minority law students, along with members of other groups underrepresented in the legal profession, opportunities to serve as an intern with a judge during the summer after their first or second year of law school. Joe Hanna — an alumni of the program himself — acts as a mentor and leader in the program, through which he has conducted more than 100 interviews for students across the country.

In 2017, Goldberg Segalla participated in the Thurgood Marshall Summer Law Internship Program, the New York City Bar Association’s flagship pipeline program for high school students. As a participating legal employer, we hosted high-achieving inner-city students for the summer and collaborate with the NYC Bar to provide them with additional programming before, during, and after the summer designed to help them prepare for a legal career.

Each summer, Goldberg Segalla proudly welcomes interns through a formal Diversity Clerkship Program that was conceived by Joe while he served as president of the MBAWNY. The program was developed in collaboration with the MBAWNY and the SUNY Buffalo Law School to provide opportunities for minority UB Law students to gain firsthand experience in the legal system. Since it was launched in 2011, the program has placed more than 100 students in clerkships in area courts as well as in several area law firms, with more judges and law firms asking to participate every day. It provides participants with an in-depth look at the legal process and the interaction between the bench and the bar that they would not otherwise get. At our firm, a dedicated team of partners monitors the work of these law clerks and ensures they obtain valuable experience to help develop important legal research, writing, case management, and client service skills critical to their long-term success. Our program earned the firm the Minority Corporate Counsel Association’s 2012 George B. Vashon Innovator Award.

We also have sponsored Success in the City, an annual diversity networking and mentoring event developed by Joe that brought together students, legal and business professionals, educators, nonprofits, and political leaders to make lasting partnerships. Many employment, business, and mentoring relationships resulted from this event. Past events have drawn more than 500 political and business leaders, legal professionals, and students. Success in the City has influenced the development of similar programs in Baltimore, Cleveland, Birmingham, Dallas, and elsewhere.

Our firm is committed to spreading the message throughout the broad legal and business communities that embracing diversity contributes to greater overall success. We conduct training sessions for in-house counsel at Fortune 500 corporations on increasing and promoting diversity. Our attorneys have authored articles and delivered presentations on diversity for various legal organizations, including DRI and the ABA, and our efforts and accomplishments in this area have been profiled in publications such as Law360, the New York State Bar Association’s State Bar News, Business First of Buffalo, the Buffalo Law Journal, and others.

In one example of our work to provide inspiration and raise awareness of diversity and women’s issues in the legal community, Caroline Berdzik, chair of our Employer and Labor Practice Group, spoke to Law360 for the publication’s “Female Powerbrokers” series. In the interview, Caroline discussed her career, the challenges of being a woman at a senior level at a law firm, the work-family life balance, and the importance of taking risks. She also offered guidance to female attorneys on moving their careers forward and advice to law firms on both increasing the number of women partners and retaining top female talent. Her longtime advocacy for women (at her previous firm, she served on the Women’s Business Development Committee and was a member of what became the national Women’s Presidents Organization) helped earn her a spot on the 2015 NJBIZ list of New Jersey’s Best 50 Women in Business.

Joe Hanna also was featured by Law360 in its “Minority Powerbrokers” series, in which he shared his perspective on breaking the glass ceiling in the legal industry, the challenges of being a lawyer of color at a senior level, how law firms can increase diversity in their partner ranks, and Goldberg Segalla’s core commitment to diversity.


Goldberg Segalla is proud to be a member of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association Firm Affiliate Network, which was created by the MCCA to assist and acknowledge law firms that are committed to advancing diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.

We are also a member of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD), a national organization of leaders in law firms and corporate legal departments dedicated to creating a truly diverse legal profession. As noted earlier, Joe Hanna was a fellow of the LCLD in 2014. In this position, he played a critical role in organizing the first-ever New York City LCLD Fellows Roundtable event, and he was instrumental in establishing a mentorship program in Hartford for local diverse first-year law students.

We support the diversity efforts of numerous organizations, including:

  • American Bar Association
  • Asian American Bar Association of New York
  • Columbian Lawyers Association
  • Defense Research Institute
  • Federal Bar Association
  • Korean American Association of Greater New York
  • League of First Nations
  • Minority Bar Association of Western New York
  • National Bar Association
  • Native American Rights Fund
  • National Association of Asian American Professionals
  • National Congress of American Indians
  • New York State Bar Association
  • Seneca Free Trade Association
  • SUNY Buffalo Law School
  • Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York

Our outreach efforts led to the creation of a comprehensive database of more than 500 minority law organizations throughout the United States. Contact between these organizations takes place in anticipation of bringing CLE and legal programs together. This group of minority bar associations includes both local and national organizations, such as:

  • National Association of Women Lawyers
  • National Association of Muslim Lawyers
  • Hispanic National Bar Association
  • National Asian Pacific American Bar
  • Black Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles
  • South Asian Bar Association of Philadelphia
  • Vietnamese American Bar Association of North Carolina

A Talented and Diverse Team

Diversity is further evident within our firm through the many languages and dialects spoken by members of our team, including Albanian, Arabic, Croatian, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Korean, Malayalam, Mandarin, Marathi, Norwegian, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Tagalog, Tamil, Thai, and Urdu.

Goldberg Segalla’s culture is one that values team-spiritedness, collegiality, and interpersonal harmony within our working community. We are a firm that believes in diversity in the workplace, and we are proud to offer a professional and positive work environment for each and every member of our team.

On these values, and on our commitment to diversity, we will never waver. We are proud of what we have accomplished thus far, but we also realize that this is a long-term mission. We will continue to innovate and to improve diversity in law and business — both within Goldberg Segalla and across the communities in which we live and work.

Diversity Matters — Join the Conversation

If you have questions regarding any of the firm’s diversity initiatives or would like to discuss ideas regarding increasing diversity in the legal profession, please contact Joe Hanna (716.566.5447; [email protected]) or another member of our Diversity Task Force:

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