Environmental/Industrial Accidents

The Gulf Coast brings environmental challenges, but SKV has you covered in civil and criminal disputes.


The Gulf Coast region is an expanding area of importance for global trade, but recent growth has also led to an increase in environmental litigation against businessowners, in terms of both governmental claims and private disputes.

Further, while heavy industry in Texas and the Gulf Coast has been a key economic driver in the region, these largescale operations can lead to significant, complex, and high-risk litigation should something go wrong. 

SKV is unique among similarly-sized firms in having a strong collection of lawyers who litigate civil, criminal, and regulatory matters, with several lawyers having hybrid practices.  This range of expertise gives the Firm a decided advantage in defending environmental/remediation litigation, as such claims often have complicated fact patterns and touch upon multiple areas of the law.  Given their extensive trial experience, SKV’s lawyers are able to develop personalized strategies to win arbitrations at the final hearing, and sometimes, even earlier, given the Firm’s reputation as a formidable opponent.  From providing successful defenses in some of the biggest cases in recent memory – such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the fatal explosion at a shipyard in Grand Isle, Louisiana – to privately counseling and representing major corporations in investigations involving water pollution, SKV lawyers have the breadth and depth of experience you need. 

SKV’s boutique size and entrepreneurial spirit give clients numerous advantages.  First, we are not a distinctly defense or plaintiff-side firm; while the majority of our work is on the defense side, we have a substantial plaintiff-side practice, including for small-medium-sized businesses suing larger companies.  Second, because we are a trial firm, nearly all of our team, from senior partners to paralegals and secretaries, has significant experience in trials and arbitrations.  Third, we staff matters leanly, which means that as a client, you will receive a dedicated and appropriately-sized team that learns your case thoroughly and is available to address your needs.  And finally, we have never been wedded to the billable hour and are always willing to discuss alternative fee arrangements with clients. At SKV, we use a straightforward approach to evaluating your case and your needs, making sure we never lose sight of your goals.

Representative Matters

  • Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill — Not guilty. Dane Ball served as trial counsel for BP’s “well site leader” in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, including a company internal investigation; civil multi-district litigation; parallel administrative proceedings; and 23 federal criminal charges of manslaughter and Clean Water Act pollution.  Over the course of 4 years of litigation, convinced court to dismiss 11 manslaughter charges before trial (affirmed on appeal), and the government itself dismissed 11 more.  After a two-week trial on the remaining Clean Water Act charge, obtained a not guilty verdict after less than two hours of jury deliberation.
  • Black Elk Explosion in the Gulf of Mexico — 11 felony charges dismissed; misdemeanor settlement. Dane  Ball and Alex Wolf served as defense counsel for an offshore contractor charged in the aftermath of the Black Elk explosion with manslaughter, violations of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, and a Clean Water Act violation.  Successfully avoided the 8 Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act charges after showing that the relevant statutes do not apply to offshore contractors.  Prior to trial, the manslaughter felonies were dismissed when the parties reached a misdemeanor Clean Water Act settlement.

Other wins include:

  • Successful representation of one of the nation’s leading residential real estate companies in internal and grand jury investigations into alleged felony water pollution.  All charges dismissed.
  • Successful representation of a commercial construction company in an investigation by DOJ and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) into the death of a worker at a construction site.  No charges filed.
  • Successful representation of numerous employees and shipping companies in separate investigations by DOJ, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) into alleged environmental violations offshore.  No charges filed.