Toxic Tort Defense

Coats Rose has a long history of success with complex toxic tort and environmental litigation, and our tradition of hard work and technical insight continues today. Our lawyers provide risk management and litigation services to industrial, manufacturing, chemical, coatings and other companies.

We combine interdisciplinary teams of attorneys, many with technical backgrounds, from the firm’s business litigation, class action, construction, environmental, complex insurance coverage and products liability groups.  We have advised clients on matters related to a broad variety of products and processes, including: Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORM), oil spill, silicosis, pipeline rupture, oilfield and oilfield services, benzene, asbestos and ground water cases.  We have defended our clients in serial lawsuits, mass torts, class actions, and other high-stakes litigation and have addressed toxic pollutants in many pathways, including indoor and outdoor air, surface water, and ground water.

Our lawyers are frequent speakers at national conferences on benzene and other chemical exposures.

Our representative experience covers a number of areas, including:

NORM Cases:

  • Representing an oilfield services and equipment company in cases filed in Louisiana state and federal courts arising from claims of exposure to Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORM) by oilfield pipe yard workers, truck drivers who transported used oilfield tubulars, and bystanders. These claimants generally assert exposure to NORM contaminated scale that may be found inside used oilfield production tubulars when those used tubulars are transported to pipeyards or other facilities for cleaning and other servicing. Alleged exposure pathways include inhalation and ingestion. NORM claimants generally allege causes of action for strict or absolute liability, conspiracy, gross negligence, negligence per se, and negligence. These claimants seek damages for alleged injuries including a myriad of cancers and other ailments, as well as for increased risk of cancers, fear of cancer, and medical monitoring.

Oil Spill Cases:

  • Defended a natural gas processing and NGL fractionation complex against a series of class action lawsuits brought by commercial fishermen, oystermen and landowners arising out of an oil spill that occurred at a facility during Hurricane Katrina on August 28, 2005. These tort claims arose out of crude oil that was allegedly spilled in the marshes, estuaries, lakes, and bayous in the Gulf of Mexico (the actual spill was not that large and was promptly cleaned up) as a result of what ultimately appeared to be a collision by a floating vessel with one of the storage tanks at the VESCO facility. These matters were successfully resolved for the client.

Silicosis Cases:

  • Represented multiple clients in the defense of lawsuits involving over 250 silicosis plaintiffs throughout the State of Texas and Oklahoma.
  • Defended over 500 silicosis cases brought against a client by manufacturers of sandblasting equipment and sandblasting pots as well as retailers of sandblasting equipment and air fed hoods to various industrial customers in the Gulf Coast Region
  • For over 15 years, we have represented multiple clients including brick and refractory companies as well as safety equipment manufacturers in over 700 cases filed in Texas.

Pipeline Rupture Cases:

  • Defended an oil field services company in a 1,600 plaintiff lawsuit dealing with personal injuries and exposure filed in New Brunswick, New Jersey arising out of a pipeline rupture that occurred in Edison, New Jersey on March 23, 1994. We successfully resolve these matters without any exposure to the client

Oilfield and Oilfield Services Cases:

  • Represented a leading oilfield service provider, focused on the completion and production phases of oil and gas wells, in various matters filed in state and federal courts throughout the country.
  • Represented a trucking company in a class action lawsuit filed in state district court in LeFlore County, Oklahoma in which the plaintiffs asserted claims for negligence, gross negligence, negligence per se, nuisance, unjust enrichment and trespass theories of liability. Plaintiffs alleged they suffered personal injuries as well as diminution of property values when our client, along with various other defendants, produced and/or transported certain liquids left over from the production of oil and gas wells located in Oklahoma and Arkansas and disposed of those liquids at certain disposal facilities. Plaintiffs alleged the disposed liquids escaped or were released into the creeks, streams, rivers and ground waters of LeFlore County, Oklahoma. This lawsuit was recently successfully resolved.
  • Represented and oilfield service provider in a matter concerning a well blowout in the Marcellus Shale that involved environmental cleanup issues.
  • Represented an oil field services company, which has injection wells in Oklahoma, in an underground nuisance and trespass claim which was successfully resolved.
  • Represented an oil and gas exploration and production company in various matters and just recently resolved an oilfield environmental contamination landowner claim for the client in South Texas.


  • Since 1984, James M. Riley, Jr., has defended several clients in benzene-related litigation as well as other chemical-related litigation.
  • Since 2000, James M. Riley, Jr. and Stacy Yates have served as National Coordinating Counsel for a chemical manufacturing company handling a nationwide docket of over 700 benzene and chemical exposure cases. These cases have involved chemical and refinery workers, mechanics, painters and others who allege that they developed leukemia, lymphoma and other cancers from benzene exposure. Following a two week trial in Mississippi, they obtained a judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) excluding plaintiffs’ expert opinion that benzene caused plaintiff’s lymphoma which was upheld by the Mississippi Supreme Court on appeal.
  • Mr. Riley and Ms. Yates played integral roles in obtaining a Daubert ruling in New Mexico where the court excluded plaintiff’s expert witnesses, leading to dismissal of claims alleging that plaintiff’s leukemia was caused by benzene, which was upheld New Mexico Court of Appeals.  They have successfully obtained summary judgments regarding preemption of plaintiff’s claims across the United States.

Asbestos Cases:

  • For over 25 years, our lawyers have successfully represented multiple asbestos clients in thousands of cases filed in Texas. These clients include an international construction contractor, engineering company, power equipment supplier, valve manufacturers, refractory companies, construction companies, and a steel company as well as safety equipment manufacturers.
  • Represented a manufacturing defendant in a case involving a living mesothelioma plaintiff and obtained a verdict for the defendant.

Groundwater Contamination Cases:

  • Represented a chemical distributor in dozens of water and ground water contamination in Texas regarding dry cleaners and perchloroethylene contamination.





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Houston, Texas 77046
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Fax: 713.651.0220


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Dallas, Texas 75248
Phone: 972.788.1600
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Austin, Texas 78746
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New Orleans, Louisiana 70130
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Cincinnati, OH 45202
Phone: 513.830.0261
Fax: 513.672.0381