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Sandi L. Nichols

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Representative Matters

Environmental and Natural Resources Litigation

  • San Diego Unified Port District Litigation. Represent the Port District in multiple high-stakes, multi-party environmental litigation cases brought by or against the Port District under CERCLA, the Oil Pollution Control Act, and various state statutory and common law theories, for cost recovery, contribution, damages and other relief for the cleanup of tidelands property (landside, sediment and groundwater) contaminated by historical industrial and shipyard operations with PCBs, metals, HPAHs, petroleum hydrocarbons, chlorinated solvents and other wastes. The claims in the cases have ranged from $30 million to more than $100 million. Each has been settled through protracted mediation resulting in settlements highly favorable to the Port District and the remediation of valuable San Diego Bay tidelands resources.
  • Private and Public Entities. Represent private and public entities in defense of citizen-suit litigation brought for alleged discharges, effluent limitations violations, reporting, and monitoring violations under the federal Clean Water Act. 
  • Published decisions include:
    • San Francisco BayKeeper v. Cargill Salt, 481 F.3d 700 (9th Cir. 2007)
    • San Francisco BayKeeper v. Tosco Corporation, 309 F.3d 1153 (9th Cir. 2002), cert. dismissed, 539 U.S. 924 (2004)
    • San Francisco BayKeeper v. Tosco Corp., 2001 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1164 (N.D. Cal. 2001)
    • Communities for a Better Env’t v. Tosco Refining Company, et al., 2001 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1161 (N.D. Cal. 2001)
    • San Francisco BayKeeper v. Cargill Salt, 263 F.3d 963 (9th Cir. 2001)
    • San Francisco BayKeeper v. Vallejo Sanitation and Flood Control District, 36 F. Supp. 2d 1214 (E.D. Cal. 1999)
  • Public Water Utility. Represented investor-owned public water utility in Endangered Species Act citizen suit for the alleged "take" of South Central California Coast Steelhead in the Carmel River (Sierra Club et al. v. California American Water Company, 2010 WL 135183 (N.D. Cal. 2010))

Environmental Permitting and Regulatory Compliance

  • Industrial Facilities. Assist companies with Clean Water Act storm water and Section 402 permitting compliance.
  • Commercial, Multifamily Residential and Retail Property Owners. Assist commercial, multifamily residential, and retail property owners with vapor intrusion investigation and remediation, which frequently arises during purchase and sale transactions and the financing and refinancing of improved real property.
  • Commercial Landlords and Tenants. Represent commercial landlords and tenants in indoor air quality matters stemming from heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVACs), mold, off-gassing of new and remodeled building interiors and related problems. Work closely with certified industrial hygienists to investigate and respond to situations.
  • Developers. Represent residential, commercial, and industrial developers in the development and defense of environmental impact reports (EIRs) and negative declarations prepared under CEQA. Handle administrative writ trials and appeals, including San Joaquin Raptor/Wildlife Rescue Center v. County of Stanislaus, et al. (1994) 27 Cal.App.4th 713.

Contaminated Sites

  • Oil Company. Represented large oil company in defending cost recovery actions in Northern California relating to petroleum, hydrocarbon and other soil and groundwater contamination relating to former service station operations.
  • Ports, Oil Companies, Commercial Landlords, Property Managers and Large Landowners. Represent ports, oil companies, commercial landlords, property managers and large landowners in negotiations, litigation and remediation activities relating to the contamination of real property and marine sediments by hazardous substances, including metals, PCBs, chlorinated solvents and petroleum. Interface with local and state regulatory agencies in investigation, clean-up and development of real property.

Environmental Risk Management

  • Corporate and Individual Insureds. Represent corporate and individual insureds in obtaining insurance coverage for defense and indemnity of environmental claims and suits.
  • Major Financial Institutions. Represent and counsel major financial institutions regarding the administration of trusts and estates that include environmentally-impaired real property, including the investigation, leasing, sale and remediation of such property.
  • Commercial and Residential Landowners. Represent commercial and residential landowners, purchasers, and sellers in litigation relating to claims for breach of contract, fraud, negligence and related claims concerning the condition, use and boundaries of real property.
  • Title Insurance Company. Represented title insurance company in actions related to title to real property and the handling of escrows and foreclosures, including Hatch v. Collins, et al. (1990) 225 Cal.App.3d 1104.  

Eminent Domain

  • Landowners. Represent landowners in eminent domain proceedings, including negotiations to obtain or defend "highest and best use" value for permanent and temporary taking of real property in California. Work closely with professional appraisers.
  • Condemnee. Filed amicus brief in support of condemnee regarding calculation of interest rates in eminent domain actions resulting in a favorable opinion from the California Supreme Court in Redevelopment Agency of Burbank v. Gilmore (1985) 38 Cal.3d 790.