2020 Summer Newsletter



How to Protect Yourself Against the “Environmental Ambulance Chaser” Defending Clean Water Act Citizen Suits

by Kevin S. Hennessy

Citizen suits brought under the Clean Water Act (CWA) against public and private entities related to industrial stormwater discharges and the management and operation of public sewer systems have become common place. The rise in this litigation is fueled by several causes: the departure by federal agencies from the “sue and settle” practice of quickly settling citizen suits by imposing heavy burdens on regulated entities; easy access for potential plaintiffs to public records of water quality monitoring of discharges; the availability of the award to plaintiffs of their attorneys’ fees; the lack of government resources dedicated to critically reviewing claims; and the perception among many local governments, businesses or their insurers that these cases are unwinnable or uneconomical to defend and are now a “cost of doing business”. This article discusses the burdens the CWA places on citizen suit plaintiffs and gives facility owners and operators a clearer understanding of available defenses that can stop a CWA claim pre-suit, result in an early dismissal of a suit, or make the suit unprofitable, and therefore, undesirable to a plaintiff. Click here to read full article.


Rachael B. Santana Receives Top Young Lawyer Award from the American Bar Association

LLW West Palm Beach attorney Rachael B. Santana has been recognized by the American Bar Association as one of its “On the Rise – Top 40 Young Lawyers” by exemplifying high achievement, innovation, vision, leadership, and service to the profession and their communities. Honorees must be under the age of 36 and nominated by a peer or peers for their exemplary level work. Honorees were chosen by a selection committee composed of reputable lawyers across many practice areas.

In addition to being named a “Top Young Lawyer” by the American Bar Association, Rachael was also recently named a 2020 Rising Star in the area of Land Use and Zoning Law by Florida Super Lawyers, a peer designation awarded to only 2.5% of all lawyers in Florida.

As an attorney, Rachael’s practice focuses on working closely with clients to listen, understand and execute their strategic objectives within the evolving and complex area of environmental and land use permitting and litigation in Florida.

Rachael received her B.A., cum laude, and her J.D. with a Certificate in Environmental and Land Use Law from the University of Florida.  She has published articles related to her analysis of federal rulemaking defining “Waters of the United States” for jurisdictional determinations and has co-drafted a model lighting ordinance for the protection of sea turtles.

Rachael is an active member of Florida Bar’s Environmental and Land Use Law section and will be chair of the section for 2020-2021. She has twice been awarded recognition for her enthusiastic commitment to the section. Within her community, Rachael is dedicated to engaging diverse stakeholders to work together toward collaborative solutions for Florida’s natural resources. She also serves as a board member for a local conservation group devoted to the conservation of marine resources and recreational opportunities for Floridians. As a mother to twin girls, Rachael seeks to empower the next generation of leaders and lawyers and speaks at various pre-law youth events to promote an understanding of environmental and natural resource law.

Ms. Santana can be reached at rsantana@llw-law.com. For more information, visit www.llw-law.com.


Kathryn Rossmell Receives Young Professional of the Year Award from FAU’s Pine Jog Environmental Education Center

LLW West Palm Beach attorney Kathryn Rossmell recently received the 2020 Young Professional of the Year Award by Florida Atlantic University’s Pine Jog Environmental Education Center.  The award recognizes a young professional that has demonstrated exceptional initiative, teamwork, and achievements as a model of environmental leadership in their field and in their community.  Ms. Rossmell also serves as a board member of Pine Jog. Her practice focuses on land use, environmental, local government and natural resources law. To learn more about Kathryn, click here. For more information about Pine Jog, click here.


LLW Receives Band 1 Ranking in Environmental Law by Chambers and Partners

For the 12th year in a row, LLW has been recognized by Chambers and Partners with a Band 1 ranking in Environmental Law. LLW is one of only four law firms in Florida to receive this top-tier ranking.

Additionally, four shareholders from LLW have been recognized as leaders in environmental law in the Guide: Terry E. Lewis, R. Steven Lewis, Stephen A. Walker and Alfred J. Malefatto.

Chambers and Partners is one of the world’s most respected and longest-standing directories in the legal profession. Each year, Chambers conducts thousands of in-depth interviews with clients in order to assess the reputations and experience of lawyers in various practice areas. For more information about Chambers and Partners, click here.


LLW Attorneys Recognized as 2020 Florida Super Lawyers and Rising Stars

Lewis, Longman & Walker is pleased to announce the following attorneys have been named 2020 Florida Super Lawyers, sharing this designation with only 5% of all attorneys in Florida:

The following LLW attorneys have been named 2020 Rising Stars, sharing this designation with only 2.5% of all attorneys in Florida:

Super Lawyers and Rising Stars are nominated by fellow attorneys who have personally observed them in action, whether as opposing counsel, co-counsel or through other firsthand observations in the courtroom. Attorney backgrounds and professional achievements are researched before the final decision is made to include them in the lists.


Understanding the Force Majeure Clause and Its Role in Contracts with Special Districts During the Pandemic

by Seth Behn, Janice Rustin and Wayne Flowers

The Covid-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic and its various governmental responses have created widespread disruptions throughout the economy and society in general. These disruptions will continue to be felt long into the future, no matter how soon the situation resolves itself.  Special districts and other local governments may have felt the impacts of the pandemic on their contracting and procurement functions as projects became delayed as a result of stay-at-home orders, supply chain demands and other unforeseen circumstances.  This article describes tips to help districts and other local government agencies navigate contract disputes that arise out of contractor claims for delay or failure to perform as a result of the pandemic.

What is a force majeure clause?

A force majeure clause in a contract provides parties with a defense that allows either of them to suspend performance of their contractual obligations or to terminate their performance altogether, provided certain circumstances are met.  A contractor may seek to rely on a force majeure clause when the work has become impossible for reasons that were both unpredictable and outside of either parties control.  Click here to read full article.


LLW News

Michelle Diffenderfer, Vice Chair of the American Bar Association Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources wrote a blog post about her unique experiences with the organization over the last 25 years.  Click to read the post: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/environment_energy_resources/section-leadership/seer-blogposts/

LLW is sponsoring the annual Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches Golf Tournament on June 26th in West Palm Beach.  LLW attorney Robert Diffenderfer is the General Counsel and an Executive Committee member of the Chamber. https://business.palmbeaches.org/events/details/annual-chamber-golf-tournament-2020-31395?calendarMonth=2020-06-01

Michelle Diffenderfer presented “Environmental Compliance in the Covid-19 Pandemic” to the Environmental, Energy and Resources Law section of the Canadian Bar Association on May 7thhttp://www.llw-law.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/01299198.pdf

In April, LLW hosted two webinars for the members of the Florida Association of Special Districts on COVID-19 and Its Impact on Special Districts. The speakers were Chris Lyon, Terry Lewis, Glenn Thomas, Nicole Poot and Seth Behn.  Click to view a recording of the webinar:  http://www.llw-law.com/videos/covid-19-and-its-impact-on-special-districts/

Click to read LLW’s COVID-19 updates, articles and resources: http://www.llw-law.com/category/covid-19/