Christopher "Smitty" Smith has a national environmental practice focusing on litigation, administrative proceedings, regulatory compliance and business transactions. Smitty represents clients in complex environmental disputes involving CERCLA, HSAA, RCRA, the Clean Water Act, the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act, the Oil Pollution Act, FIFRA, and Proposition 65 and has significant experience counseling clients on regulatory compliance with the same environmental statutes. He regularly prosecutes and defends claims under federal and state environmental statutory schemes, including the following:
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA)
California's Hazardous Substances Account Act (HSAA)
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)
Clean Water Act (CWA)
Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act
Oil Pollution Act (OPA)
Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA)
California's Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act (Proposition 65)
Smitty also negotiates on behalf of clients with federal and state regulators to resolve environmental disputes, including the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), California State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board), various Regional Water Quality Control Boards, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), the California South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR), and the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection (NDEP).
- US District Court, Central District of California
- US District Court, Eastern District of California
- US District Court, Northern District of California
- US District Court, Southern District of California
- US Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
- J.D., Seattle University, 2007, cum laude
- B.S., San Diego State University, 2003, Business Administration
Areas of Practice
CERCLA & HSAA
- Managed CERCLA cost recovery portfolio for railway transportation company with landholdings throughout the Western United States seeking costs from tenants and other businesses that utilized the trackage for the railway transportation company.
- Prosecuting CERCLA and HSAA cost recovery action on behalf of winery for naturally occurring asbestos contamination at vineyard.
- Obtained partial summary judgment for a dry-cleaning equipment manufacturer of CERCLA and HSAA claims.
- Obtained summary judgment in favor of a real property owner based on HSAA and common law environmental claims of environmental contamination of groundwater.
- Prepared largest municipal utility in the country for future cost recovery litigation in what will be the largest and most comprehensive CERCLA action in history.
- Defended RCRA citizen suit over groundwater contamination establishing active involvement standard in Ninth Circuit for passive landowners and operators.
- Defended an aerospace manufacturer in connection with CERCLA, RCRA, and numerous common law environmental claims.
- Negotiated de minimis settlement for landfill owner in CWA citizen suit based on legal challenges presented in a motion to dismiss as to alleged violations of California’s General Industrial National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit.
- Represented theme park in CWA litigation over effluent and stormwater permitting and compliance disputes with a Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board (LARWQCB) and group of environmental stakeholders.
- Counseled theme parks in regulatory disputes over CWA permit coverage.
- Coordinated with Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board (SARWQCB) and various stakeholders on negotiated terms of Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit for large watershed.
- Defended CWA citizen suit against metal recycling facility through bench trial.
- Represented a municipality in connection with OPA claims based on a petroleum release into the Port of Los Angeles.
Land Use (NEPA/CEQA)
- Effectively presented evidence of imminent and substantial danger sufficient to obtain a temporary restraining order and subsequent preliminary injunction for an oil and gas company in dispute involving access to mineral rights.
California Air Resources Board (CARB) & Air Quality Management District (AQMD)
- Challenged administrative determination by SCAQMD regarding risk reduction measures applied to aerospace manufacturing company.
- Advising automotive parts manufacturer on CARB compliance.
- Advised an international flavoring and fragrance company on compliance with Proposition 65 for operations based in California.
- Defend personal equipment manufacturer from Proposition 65 claims based on alleged exposure to diethylhexyl-phthalate (DEHP) above safe harbor limits.
- Litigated Proposition 65 citizen suit involving alleged exposure to diisononyl phthalate (DINP) in excess of recently-adopted no significant risk level (NSRL).
Brownfields & Environmental Due Diligence
- Oversaw environmental cleanup for commercial real estate developer, including coordination with LARWQCB and Certified Unified Program Agencies (CUPA) on site characterization and remediation of soil and groundwater contamination.
- Counseled multi-family residential real estate developer on obtaining site closure from DTSC in order to allow for redevelopment without restrictions.
- Advised purchaser in commercial real estate transaction on risks associated with off-site environmental contamination and potential for migration.
Environmental Exposure & Toxic Tort
- Obtained dismissal of fear of cancer case at pleadings stage based on variations between risk modeling and actual exposure.
Environmental Administrative Challenges
- Successfully challenged a mill tax assessment by the DPR resulting in refund of assessment to pesticide manufacturer.
- Working with trade associations to obtain favorable ruling on unfunded mandates for stormwater permitting and compliance in California.
- Representing roofing materials manufacturer in administrative proceedings before Cal/OSHA over health and safety measures instituted at industrial facility.
Wetlands & Waters
- Counseled an aerospace company regarding potential liability resulting from an incident that caused environmental contamination to federally protected wetland.
"Assessing, Managing, and Forecasting Environmental Liabilities...Once Considered Settled and Closed," CHWMEG 2018 Fall Meeting, New Orleans, LA, November 15, 2018
"Think Holistically: Incorporating Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Environmental Decision-Making," California Lawyers Association Environmental Law Section, September 28, 2018
"Prop 65 Revisions: Liability Allocation, New Safe Harbor Warning, Internet Warnings," Strafford Webinar, July 11, 2018
"CERCLA Actions and Statute of Limitations: Navigating the Circuit Split, Lessons From Recent Decisions," Strafford Webinar, May 9, 2018
"Recent Updates to CERCLA," CHWMEG 2017 Annual Meeting, Tampa, FL, May 3, 2017
"Clean Water Act Citizen Suites: Defense and Litigation Strategies," Strafford Webinar, March 14, 2017
"CERCLA Actions and Statute of Limitations: Navigating the Circuit Split, Lessons From Recent Decisions," Strafford Webinar, February 2, 2017
"An Update on Aerial Emissions and CERCLA Liability as well as a Primer on Recent Environmental Issues Impacting Industrial Waste Management," CHWMEG 2016 Fall Meeting, November 4, 2016
"Air Emissions from a Recycling Facility May be the Basis for an Entirely New Wrinkle for CERCLA Liability," CHWMEG 2016 Annual Meeting, May 5, 2016
"Joint and Several Liability is the Future of the Clean Water Act," NACWA Hot Topics in Clean Water Law Web Seminar, December 16, 2015
"Preparing for e-Scrap's Unexpected," e-Scrap 2015 Conference, September 1, 2015
"Risk Management Concerns in the eWaste Processing & Recycling Sector," Environmental Show of the South, April 15, 2015
News & Publications
March 11, 2019
September 20, 2018
June 7, 2018
August 11, 2016
July 29, 2016
March 21, 2016
March 15, 2016
- Super Lawyers, Southern California, "Rising Star," Environmental (2018)
- Newsletter Vice Chair, Section of Environmental, Energy and Resources, Oil and Gas Committee, American Bar Association
- Legal Affairs Committee, National Association of Clean Water Agencies
- Environmental Section, Los Angeles County Bar Association
- Association of California Water Agencies
- Association of Surfing Lawyers