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Steve Barnett

Partner

Overview

For more than 20 years, Steve Barnett has engaged in a wide-ranging litigation, regulatory, transactional and legislative practice for clients concerned with health, safety and the environment. He represents clients in CERCLA (Superfund) and state environmental remediation matters, asbestos and other toxic substance suits, and regulatory compliance. Steve also advises clients on environmental issues in the sale and transfer of businesses and property, including directing due diligence and negotiating transaction terms. 

Prior to his legal career, Steve practiced as a licensed Professional Engineer and Certified Industrial Hygienist and obtained a Master of Science in Public Health, Industrial Hygiene Emphasis. He also proudly served as Captain, United States Air Force, Bioenvironmental Engineer.

Notable Experience 

  • Defense against claims of impacts to groundwater and water supply wells due to road salt used for de-icing roadways by state, county and local government agencies
  • Represent New Jersey State agency with respect to environmental compliance of agency-owned real property and improvements statewide
  • Defend groundwater contamination case in Long Island, New York in New York State Court and Central District of California Bankruptcy Court
  • Negotiated sale of 20-acre NJDEP-permitted landfill in downtown Newark, New Jersey
  • Obtained U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency researcher registration for client handling controlled substances
  • Obtained New Jersey Department of Treasury ruling in enforcement action that client owed no Spill Compensation and Control Tax
  • Negotiating sale of 21-acre former aircraft testing facility adjacent to airport in Essex County, New Jersey
  • Negotiating investigation and remediation of WWII-era munitions in and about 65-acre property formerly site of U.S. Army test range
  • Represent property owner investigating and remediating groundwater contamination in Hoboken, New Jersey including securing off-property access rights
  • Negotiating sale of 10-acre property in Newark, New Jersey formerly site of solid waste transfer facility
  • Negotiating environmental terms of purchase of 7-acre animal feed storage and supply warehouse property in Genesee County, New York
  • Represent electric and gas utilities in environmental investigations and remediations subject to USEPA and NJDEP oversight including of New Jersey river and bay water systems

Certifications

  • Professional Engineer, New Jersey Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors
  • Registered Patent Attorney, United States Patent & Trademark Office
  • Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH), American Board of Industrial Hygiene

Experience

Litigation

  • Defense of a groundwater contamination case in Long Island, New York, in New York State Court and Central District of California Bankruptcy Court
  • Managed, and participated in the defense of, a portfolio of 1,000+ asbestos and other product liability & toxic tort cases in New Jersey and nationwide
  • Obtained numerous summary judgment dismissals of asbestos lawsuits due to absence of frequent, regular and proximate exposure
  • Expert discovery and trial presentations for the defense in a 1999 jury trial case involving a plaintiff alleging mesothelioma due to having worked in a building adjacent to a Bethlehem Steel shipyard during World War II.  The jury entered a defense verdict.
  • Collected and analyzed government studies of asbestos in hairdryers which have since been relied upon by experts in litigated matters and incorporated into national asbestos defense strategy
  • Represented clients in CERCLA (Superfund) and state environmental remediation matters nationwide
  • Obtained dismissal of federal Clean Water Act citizen suit against owner and operator of horse racetrack
  • Defense of litigation in New Jersey State Court brought by New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and others regarding cleanup of the Lower Passaic River and Newark Bay Complex and involving 300+ parties
  • Represented plaintiff in federal CERCLA case recovering $6.5 million and favorable future environmental terms at 14 sites nationwide
  • Represented plaintiff in federal court in Texas against adjacent petrochemical refinery recovering $1.3 million past environmental costs and future indemnification
  • Defended suit by State of New Hampshire seeking $1.5 million for hazardous waste violations – the court dismissed all claims after a trial on the merits
  • Negotiated for a prior property owner to perform environmental remediation at seven facilities in seven states resulting in savings to client of $2 million over three years
  • Defended construction contractor in a case resulting from New Jersey power plant explosion and fire involving three fatalities and seeking $50 million in damages

CERCLA/New Jersey Spill Act/Site Remediation

  • Represented party in State litigation and federal EPA CERCLA administrative action to investigate and remediate waterways and bays in and about Newark Bay and New York Harbor
  • Represented the current owner of a former WWII aircraft engine test facility with respect to environmental investigation and remediation
  • Represented government sports and exposition authority/property owner in denying claims of potentially responsible party group for liability associated with sports complex
  • Represented the owner and redeveloper of former chromium ore processing and chemical production facility in negotiations with responsible party, State and local authorities and environmental matters
  • Represented landowner and negotiated agreements with USEPA and NJDEP regarding former PJP Landfill CERCLA Superfund site, Jersey City, New Jersey
  • Represented client adjacent to CERCLA Superfund site, Newark, New Jersey, with respect to investigation and access issues
  • Represented client in $350 million CERCLA Superfund cost recovery action for site in South Plainfield, New Jersey
  • Represented Third Party Defendant in NJDEP cost recovery action arising out of the Burlington Environmental Management Services (BEMS) Sanitary Landfill, Burlington County, New Jersey
  • Advised on submissions to USEPA relating to former Davenport, Iowa chemical distribution facility pursuant to RCRA Section 3013 Administrative Order on Consent
  • Represented a plaintiff in first reported CERCLA decision in Second Circuit after the United States Supreme Court Aviall decision, recovering $6.5 million and past costs and obtaining future environmental protections for client with respect to 14 sites nationwide
  • Represented plaintiff in CERCLA litigation recovering $1.3 million past environmental costs and future indemnification from adjacent petrochemical refinery
  • Represented numerous clients in investigations, cleanup, and cost recovery actions regarding polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB’s)
  • Negotiated agreements for a prior property owner to perform environmental investigation and remediation of contaminated sites in Dallas, Denver, Houston, Indianapolis, Kansas City, New Orleans, and Oklahoma City resulting in total savings to client of $2,000,000 over three years
  • Defended suit by State of New Hampshire seeking $1.5 million for hazardous waste violations
  • Represented PRP in allocation negotiations with USEPA and other PRP’s with respect to Lenz Oil CERCLA Superfund site, Cook County, Illinois
  • Represented the owner of former a petroleum refinery and advised regarding environmental issues
  • Advise clients on handling, storage, disposal, investigation, and cleanup of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB’s)

Business and Property Transfers

  • Sale of a former aircraft testing facility
  • Purchase of a trucking warehouse property
  • Directed environmental due diligence, and negotiated and drafted environmental terms of leases of two major horse racetracks in New Jersey
  • Directed environmental due diligence, and negotiated and drafted environmental terms of purchase of industrial facility on waterway designated as a federal CERCLA Superfund site and across the street from another federal Superfund CERCLA site
  • Directed environmental due diligence, and negotiated and drafted environmental terms of long term lease of property for construction of major amusement park and water park complex in metropolitan area
  • Directed environmental due diligence, and negotiated and drafted environmental terms of sale of major precast concrete business
  • Advised owners of former WWII aircraft and munitions facilities on environmental issues including for property dispositions
  • Advised owners, tenants, and buyers on requirements of the New Jersey Industrial Site Recovery Act (ISRA) which triggers environmental investigation and remediation upon transfers of interests in properties and/or businesses
  • Directed environmental due diligence investigation of the sole active chromium ore refining facility in US and drafted & negotiated environmental terms of purchase for $40 million
  • Drafted and negotiated environmental terms in sale of New Jersey adhesives business for $16 million
  • Negotiated and drafted terms of sale of aluminum chloride manufacturer in PA for $3 million directed environmental disclosures, and arranged for recycling of 300,000 lbs of off-spec aluminum chloride realizing $300,000 savings
  • Negotiated and drafted terms of sale agreement for driers and anti-skinning products inventory and associated non-compete agreement and trademark license for US and Canada
  • Negotiated and drafted terms for construction of $2 million chromium chemical processing unit in North Carolina and related service and supply contracts and confidentiality and trade secret agreements
  • Directed environmental due diligence investigations for the purchase of a chemical manufacturing plant in Netherlands for €48,500,000, mothballing of a site in Newcastle, England; three acquisitions in which client advanced to second round of bidding, termination of joint venture site in Nashville, Tennessee; and sale of industrial latex rubber manufacturing business with facilities in Malaysia, Australia, U.S., UK, Netherlands and South Africa
  • Represented owner of WWII munitions testing area in investigation and remediation and business interruption action
  • Represented developer of golf course and condominium project on site of former petroleum product refinery on obtaining environmental and condominium approvals
  • Advised prospective purchaser of golf course property for redevelopment into residential homes
  • Advised lender on environmental terms of mortgages in New Jersey
  • Advised owner of former landfill in Newark, New Jersey on environmental issues relating to operation, demolition, and property sale
  • Advised owner of 300 unit residential property in obtaining environmental approvals for refinancing pursuant to Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA a/k/a Fannie Mae) requirements
  • Represented owner multiple properties in transfer for development and construction of new Prudential Center in downtown Newark, New Jersey
  • Represented developer in environmental due diligence, acquisition and consolidation of 20+contiguous urban parcels and subsequent sale for in excess of $100 million
  • Negotiated and drafted terms for sale of $1 million Brownfield property in New Jersey
  • Negotiated and drafted terms of pipeline leases and easements for transportation of oil and petrochemicals to/from Port of Corpus Christi, TX in exchange for rent and indemnities for client
  • Negotiated and drafted sale terms for Vancouver, BC site for CA$2.3 million and Toronto, ON Brownfield site for CA$2.1 million
  • Negotiated and drafted terms of sale of industrial Brownfield properties in New Jersey, Georgia, North Carolina and Toronto
  • Advised on environmental issues in connection with mothballing of chromium chemical manufacturing plant in Corpus Christi, Texas, and color pigments manufacturing plant in East St. Louis, Illinois

Regulatory Compliance

  • Advised on compliance with New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection requirements, including hazardous substances, site remediation, land use, and air permitting, including defense of enforcement actions (AONOCAPA's)
  • Advised on regulatory compliance for use, storage, and disposal of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB’s)
  • Advised on demolition, beneficial reuse, recycling, and disposal of soils, building materials
  • Advised on Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements, including response to inspections and notices of violations
  • Advised specialty chemicals company on federal and state, and foreign, environmental, health, and safety regulations worldwide
  • Defended air permit violations in New Jersey, Illinois, Tennessee and Texas; wastewater violations in Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey and West Virginia; and EPA PCB information requests, groundwater and soil compliance issues, and DOT requirements in Texas
  • Conducted 20+ health, safety and environmental audits of facilities in US and Europe to OSHA & EPA requirements, comparable EU standards, and corporate best practices
  • Solicited highest levels of USEPA to grant pesticide registrations for chromium-containing products and participated in OSHA rulemaking including litigation against OSHA and SBA hearings
  • Defended USEPA Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) action seeking $433,000 for alleged violations of Inventory Update Rule (IUR) and Pre-manufacture Notice (PMN) requirements and import certifications
  • Defended Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) action pursuant to USDOT Hazardous Materials Regulations
  • Defended bulk chemical supplier in NJDEP hazardous waste action pursuant to RCRA relating to garbage truck fire and emergency response action

 Decisions

  • Carvalho v. Toll Bros. & Devel., 143 N.J. 565 (1996) (Amicus Curiae)
  • Elementis Chemicals, Inc. v. TH Agriculture and Nutrition, L.L.C. et al., 373 F.Supp.2d 257 (S.D.N.Y. 2005)
  • State v. Elementis Chemical, Inc., 152 N.H. 794 (2005)
  • Sandy Hook Watermans Alliance, Inc. v. N.J. Sports & Exposition Auth., Civ. Action No.: 11-813 (FLW), United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 79488, July 20, 2011

Activities

Professional and Community Affiliations

  • Member, New Jersey State Industrial Safety Committee, appointed by New Jersey Department of Labor Commissioner pursuant to N.J.S.A. 34:6A-15.
  • Co-chair, OSHA/New Jersey Industrial Communication Alliance
  • Member, New Jersey Licensed Site Remediation Professional Association, Risk Management and Loss Prevention Committee
  • Member, American Bar Association Section of Environment, Energy and Resources
  • Former Public Defender, Borough of Glen Ridge
  • Past President, New Jersey Section of the American Industrial Hygiene Association
  • Former Chairman, New Jersey Society of Professional Engineers Professional Conduct Committee
  • Member, New Jersey State Bar Association
    • Environmental Law Section
    • Business Law Section, Industrial Site Recovery Act (ISRA) and Environmental Issues Committee

Presentations

  • Speaker, “Legal Aspects of the Safety Profession,” New Jersey chapter of the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), Professional Development Conference (May 2017) 
  • Speaker, "A Crash Course in OSHA,” New Jersey Business Industry Association (March 2017)
  • Speaker, “OSHA Process Safety Management (PSM) Legal and Regulatory Update,” Alliance of Hazardous Materials Managers and American Society of Safety Engineers, joint meeting (October 2015)
  • Speaker, "Vapor Intrusion and IAQ: Legal Case Studies in EPA and NJDEP Site Remediation," NJAIHA September Dinner Meeting (September 2015)
  • Presenter, "Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Update," CIANJ Environmental Business Council (EBC) Roundtable (bi-monthly since March 2014)
  • Speaker, "Approaches to Resolving Differences of Professional Judgment - Site Remediation," CIANJ in partnership with Montclair State University (MSU)’s Continuing Environmental Education Program (February 2015)
  • Presenter, "Top 10 USDOT Violations," National Association of Chemical Distributors," ChemEdge Conference, Dallas, Texas (August 2013)
  • Speaker, “Department of Transportation Regulations,” National Association of Chemical Distributors ChemEdge (August 2013)
  • Panelist, “Get Ready for New Jersey’s New Site Remediation Program,” New Jersey Business & Industry Association, March 7, 2012
  • Environmental Law Legal Trends presentation, Atlantic Builders Convention, Atlantic City, March 29, 2012
  • Environmental caselaw presentation, Atlantic Builders Convention, Atlantic City, April 7, 2011
  • Arranger and moderator, Pan Flu Preparedness:  Situation Update, Continuity of Operations, and OSHA Requirements, arranged and moderated session by Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Public Service Electric & Gas, PSE&G Training Center, Edison, January 12, 2010
  • Panelist, New Jersey Business & Industry Association Site Remediation Seminar, April 16, 2010
  • Arranger and moderator, Case Study: From Vision to Redevelopment - A Cooperative Approach to Revitalizing Jersey City’s West Side, Tri-State Conference, National Brownfield Association, New York City, June 4, 2009
  • Arranger and moderator, Pan Flu Preparedness:  Situation Update, Continuity of Operations, and OSHA Requirements, arranged and moderated session by Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Public Service Electric & Gas, PSE&G Training Center, Edison, December 1, 2009
  • Presenter, New Jersey Environmental Law, Connell Foley LLP Continuing Legal Education Training Session, December 2, 2009

News & Insights

News

Speaking Engagements

Publications

Practice Areas

Education

University of Colorado−Boulder  Law School (J.D., 1994)

Rutgers University School of  Law−Camden (visiting student,  1993-1994)

University of Utah (M.S., Public  Health, Industrial Hygiene  Emphasis, 1991)

United States Air Force School  of Aerospace Medicine  (Diploma, Bioenvironmental  Engineering, 1987)

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute  (B.S., Aeronautical Engineering,  Minor in Economics, 1986)

Admissions

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