Municipal and private clients, as well as trade associations, have long recognized B&D as a preeminent firm on all issues relating to the generation, disposal, and beneficial reuse of biosolids. We work creatively with clients to develop new markets and obtain regulatory approvals for the use of biosolids as both an energy resource and as farm and garden fertilizer and soil additive. Our in-depth knowledge of biosolids law, engineering, and science developed over decades of work in this field provides clients efficient and positive outcomes.
Our litigators have defended the land application of biosolids across the country, both from tort suits and restrictive local ordinances, securing crucial victories in federal and state courts that have helped safeguard this practice. We have established precedent in trial and appellate litigation that localities may not override state and federal law allowing land application. We have also defeated or settled on favorable terms major tort lawsuits alleging nuisance or personal injury caused by exposure to biosolids.
In addition to our biosolids work, B&D has broad wastewater expertise.
We work with municipal agencies operating publicly-owned treatment works that are responsible for wastewater collection, treatment, and discharge, as well as biosolids management. We maintain strong institutional relationships with many cities that go back decades. We also represent industry associations, agencies operating municipal biosolids generators, farmers using biosolids, and leading national contractors who recycle biosolids to farmland.
Select Representative Work
- Following a two-week bench trial prosecuted by B&D, the Tulare County, CA superior court struck down a voter initiative passed in Kern County, CA that banned the land application of biosolids to a 4,700-acre farm in the county owned by B&D client the City of Los Angeles. B&D had previously secured a preliminary injunction against the ban, affirmed on an interlocutory appeal, that allowed Los Angeles to continue to recycle biosolids to grow crops during the pendency of our legal challenge. At trial, we presented numerous fact witnesses and scientific experts to establish the environmental benefits of applying biosolids to farmland, and the lack of risk from PFAS in biosolids. City of Los Angeles v. Kern County, 2017 WL 1292822 (Tulare Co. Super. Ct. 2017).
- B&D secured a unanimous ruling from the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania that will have national influence in deterring tort claims. The case was a mass tort in which 34 plaintiffs sought millions of dollars in damages for nuisance, negligence, and trespass for the land application of biosolids on a farm near Plaintiffs’ homes. The Court held that land application of biosolids is an agricultural activity shielded from tort claims by the statute of repose in the Pennsylvania Right to Farm Act. Gilbert v. Synagro, 131 A.3d 1 (Pa. 2015).
- B&D argued and won a case before the Washington State Court of Appeals striking down on preemption grounds a county ban on land application of biosolids. Washington Department of Ecology v. Wahkiakum County, 337 P.3d 364 (Wash. App. 2014), review denied, 347 P.3d 459 (Wash. 2015).
- B&D successfully defended a major land applier in a wrongful death suit that alleged that biosolids applied on a farm caused toxic emissions that caused the death of a nearby resident. Marshall v. Synagro (Rockingham Co. Sup. Ct., N.H.).
- B&D defended a toxic tort suit brought against a municipal water agency’s biosolids land application contractor, secured dismissal of some claims, and settled the case with a public statement by plaintiffs disavowing any links between biosolids and illness. Wyatt v. Sussex Surry LLC, 482 F. Supp. 2d 740 (E.D. Va. 2007).