Pleading Federal Environmental and Toxic Tort Claims

Navigating Pleading Standards Amid Differing Court Decisions, and Overcoming Other Procedural Challenges

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

Conducted on Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Recorded event now available

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Program Materials

This CLE webinar will provide litigators with an overview of current rules and case law establishing the governing standards in pleadinenvironmental and tort cases. The panel will also offer insights for successfully pleading those claims, challenging the pleadings at an early stage, and addressing other procedural issues.


For many years, the adequacy of pleadings filed in federal environmental and toxic-tort cases was governed by the relatively liberal “notice” pleading standards articulated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1957 Conley v. Gibson decision.

Now, in Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007) and Ascroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), the Court has stated that compliance with FRCP 8(a)(2) means no federal claims will be sustained unless the pleadings contain facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.

Recent cases have highlighted the confusion surrounding how the current pleading standards should be applied in federal environmental and tort cases.

It is clear, however, that Twombly and Iqbal have created opportunities for defense counsel to effectively challenge environmental claims through motion practice under FRCP 12(b)(6), potentially obtaining early dismissal of these cases and avoiding the burden and costs of protracted discovery.

Listen as our authoritative panel of environmental litigators addresses these pleading challenges and opportunities, along other procedual considerations. The panel will discuss best practices for bringing federal environmental and tort claims, as well as succesfully defending against them.



  1. Overview of Twombly, Iqbal, and other recent court decisions under FRCP 8(a) and 12(b).
  2. Applying applicable pleading standards in the environmental context.
    1. Environmental fact v. inference
    2. Substantive plausibility v. speculative probability
  3. Case studies — Chubb v. SS/Loral, et al.; Z-J, Inc. v. Pfizer Inc.
  4. Other procedural issues (e.g., standing, timeliness, and injury-in-fact)
  5. Lessons learned


The panel will review these and other key questions:

  • What are the consequences of Twombly and Iqbal on environmental and toxic tort cases?
  • What are the requirements for a complaint to withstand a 12(b)(6) motion?
  • How can defense counsel challenge environmental claims at the earliest possible stage in the proceedings to avoid costly discovery and pre-trial motion practice?
  • What are the lessons for environmental litigators from recent court decisions?

Following the speaker presentations, you'll have an opportunity to get answers to your specific questions during the interactive Q&A.


Kevin Haroff
Kevin Haroff

Marten Law

He represents businesses, individuals and governmental entities in complex federal and state court litigation as well...  |  Read More

Gregory M. Gotwald
Gregory M. Gotwald

Plews Shadley Racher & Braun

He focuses his practice on litigation and appellate work in the areas of insurance coverage law, environmental law,...  |  Read More

Brianna Schroeder
Brianna Schroeder

Janzen AG Law

 Ms. Schroeder focuses her legal practice working for farmers and agribusinesses. She has litigated complex...  |  Read More

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