Marc McAree leads our firm’s Environmental Litigation practice.
Our team of environmental litigators and litigation law clerks bring depth, breadth and strategy to our practice that addresses all aspects of environmental litigation, whether as plaintiff, defendant, appellant or applicant. We litigate in a number of forums.
Our environmental litigators confront contamination issues that range from odour and noise nuisances to landfill litigation to Brownfield remediation and redevelopment of industrial, commercial, residential and municipal properties to professional negligence.
Our team has particular expertise in claims involving petroleum hydrocarbon and chlorinated solvent impacts on property.
We prosecute and defend civil actions involving private and public nuisance, negligence, strict liability, statutory liability, riparian rights, trespass and actions for harm to public resources under the Ontario Environmental Bill of Rights.
We seek remedies including injunctions, awards of damages and other compensation. We appeal and judicially review government decisions.
We appear before many environmental and land use related administrative tribunals.
We defend environmental prosecutions initiated by municipal and provincial governmental authorities.
Our environmental litigators appear before
- Courts – Superior Court of Ontario, Ontario’s Divisional Court, Ontario Court of Appeal, Federal Court of Canada and the Supreme Court of Canada
- Boards and Tribunals – Ontario Municipal Board, Ontario Energy Board, Mining and Lands Commissioner, Drainage Tribunal, Environmental Review Tribunal, Federal Competition Tribunal
- Provincial Cabinet
Selected Willms & Shier litigation case studies
Plaintiff Litigation – Petroleum Hydrocarbon Contamination: A number of years ago our client brought a lawsuit against an oil company for contamination of their property. Our client settled the lawsuit and as part of the settlement obtained a commitment from the oil company to clean up the property to the then MOE Standards. A number of years later the oil company failed to clean up the property. We were retained to commence a second lawsuit against the oil company. The second lawsuit was about the amount of damages to be paid. Liability was not an issue. The oil company purchased the property for fair market value, paid our client’s costs and expenses to bring the second lawsuit and provided an indemnity.
Defence Litigation –Professional Negligence in Contaminated Site Claims: We have active files defending environmental consultants and lawyers from claims of professional negligence arising from contaminated land matters. These files are in various stages of litigation or resolution. In many of these cases we were retained by the professional liability insurance company for the defendant professionals.
Multi-Party Defence Litigation – Chlorinated Solvents Contamination: Our industrial client carried on a manufacturing business at the same location for over 30 years. Our client approached two neighbours on discovering that chlorinated solvents had migrated off site. One neighbour sued our client for $22M, and that neighbour's mortgage company also sued for $12M. We negotiated a complex settlement of these claims after discovery. Settlement included a risk assessment-based clean-up and transfer of property that significantly reduced what would have been much higher monetary damages. The result is an all-party release from future claims.
Regulatory Litigation – Appeal of MOE Orders: The MOE ordered our client to forthwith remediate one of its major sewage treatment facilities. The order was made without regard for the appropriateness of the timing, or considerations of the cost and the potential nuisance effects. We were counsel on the appeal to the ERT whereby the terms of the order were changed to permit the remediation to take place in the winter when the odour impacts would be minimized, and where lower water levels allowed simpler remediation technology at a saving to the client of over $1M. The agreement with the MOE allowed the client to carry on business with no interruption.
Defence of Prosecution – Provincial and Federal Statues, Municipal By-Laws: Defended a municipal client successfully at the Ontario Court of Appeal. As a result of the successful defence, the MOE changed the wording of the Environmental Protection Act.