When clients face multi-million dollar environmental claims and regulatory enforcement challenges they turn to Ric because of his insight, tenacity and ability to untangle even the most complicated matters. Ric counsels companies in federal and state regulatory compliance and dispute resolution. His practice focuses on environmental regulatory compliance, litigation and enforcement defense, as well as toxic tort and products liability litigation.

Ric is particularly experienced in defending clients against bet-the-company damage claims related to chemical exposure; this includes public properties such as wastewater treatment systems. This work includes defending clients in various toxic tort and class action claims for personal injury and property damage from alleged contamination by benzene, chlorinated solvents, metals, particulates, petroleum constituents and other substances.

Ric’s domestic and multinational energy and diversified manufacturing clients include petroleum producers and refiners, petroleum pipeline operators, power producers, chemical manufacturers, tool manufacturers and diversified electrical equipment and component manufacturers.

He is a recognized leader in the firm’s environmental regulatory and litigation defense practice. He has also presented and published papers on varied topics such as emerging theories of property damage calculations, the business risks of climate change and relative liability risks of different petroleum compounds.

Presentations and Publications

  • Looking to the Future:  Responding to New Climate Change Litigation, Co-author (Lee Knight Caffery), Inside The Minds - The Legal Impact of Climate Change, 2010
  • Critical Failures of Proof and Theory in MTBE Cases, 2005 NGWA Groundwater and Environmental Law Conference
  • Legal Theories of Liability and Defense in MTBE/UST Cases, 2004 Mealey’s MTBE and UST Litigation Conference
  • Damages Peculiar to Toxic Torts, 2003 North Carolina Bar Association Environmental and Toxic Tort Litigation Conference

Civic and Professional Activities

  • North Carolina State Bar Association, Environmental and Natural Resources Section
  • South Carolina State Bar Association, Environmental Law Section
  • Chairman of the ICSC Carolinas Idea Exchange 2001 and 2002
  • Planning Committee for Carolinas Idea Exchange 2003 to 2007
  • ICSC Congressional Delegate in Washington, D.C., 1998 through 2003
  • National Ground Water Association
  • Association of Ground Water Scientists and Engineers
  • North Mecklenburg Youth Soccer Association, Certified Coach
  • Science Olympiad Coach, Davidson Middle School 2002 and 2003
  • Rocky River Road Club
  • USA Triathlon
  • United States Adventure Racing Association

Honors and Awards

  • Chambers USA 2018 Ranked Lawyer, Environment, North Carolina
  • Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America© in the fields of Administrative / Regulatory Law, Energy Law, Environmental Law, Litigation - Environmental, 2007 – Present
  • Super Lawyers Honoree, 2006, 2011 -2017
Experience

Any result the lawyer or law firm may have achieved on behalf of clients in other matters does not necessarily indicate similar results can be obtained for other clients.

  • Achieved favorable settlement as lead counsel for a multinational diversified manufacturer in defense of three mass-action lawsuits alleging property damage and personal injury stemming from former mining activity in South Carolina.
  • Lead counsel for a large interstate petroleum pipeline operator in defense of property damage claims and a Clean Water Act citizen’s suit arising out of the release of petroleum products from an interstate pipeline in South Carolina. The US District Court dismissed the citizens’ suit and the matter is pending in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • Lead counsel for a large specialty latex manufacturer in successfully defending claims of business destruction brought by a private wastewater treatment contractor in Alabama. Subsequently obtained 65% CERCLA cost recovery verdict on behalf of our client against the Plaintiffs’ contractor in the State of Georgia.
  • Represented three of the world’s largest petroleum producers and refiners in a products liability class action brought by over 900,000 private drinking water well owners in the state of North Carolina. Obtained a complete dismissal.
  • Represented a leading electronic components manufacturer in defense of a class action alleging private property damages due to the migration of trichloroethylene groundwater contamination beneath the class members’ homes. After nearly three years of intense litigation and expert discovery, achieved a favorable class-wide settlement.
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Bar admissions

1990, North Carolina

1991, South Carolina

Admitted to practice before:

  • United States District Court for the Eastern, Middle and Western Districts of North Carolina
  • United States District Court for the District of South Carolina
  • Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals

Education

  • J.D., University of South Carolina School of Law
  • B.S., Guilford College, Geology
  • Candidate for M.S. Geochemistry, University of Nevada, Mackay School of Mines
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