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Kevin A. Gaynor

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Gaynor, Kevin A.

Kevin enjoys a national practice as an environmental litigator. His practice focuses on defense of environmental civil and criminal enforcement actions and complex environmental litigation matters. He is national environmental litigation counsel for one of the Country’s largest natural resources companies and handles matters in fourteen states covering all aspects of environmental litigation.

Before coming to the firm as a partner in 1993, he served in the U.S. Department of Justice, where he was involved in developing national environmental enforcement policies and strategies and as lead counsel in selected cases of national significance. He also served as Assistant U.S. Attorney in Maine.

Representative Experience
Environmental Criminal Matters
Case Citations | View All
  • Defended a foreign oil company from environmental criminal charges under multiple statutes associated with an explosion that killed and badly injured numerous persons.  Prior to Deep Water Horizon, this was the most complex environmental case initiated by the United States.  The matter involved numerous investigations by multiple federal and state agencies and various Congressional hearings.  Resolved the matter short of trial for two felony counts against the company and no charges against individuals.  I was also lead counsel on the environmental civil enforcement action, which was resolved with a comprehensive consent decree
  • Defended a large oil company from potential criminal charges associated with an oil spill near a national wildlife refuge that allegedly was responsible for the death of 2,000 fledgling brown pelicans, then an endangered species.  Successfully convinced federal prosecutors to not bring criminal charges after a multi-year investigation
  • Defended an oil company in the Gulf of Mexico from numerous alleged violations for the Clean Water Act and environmental statues resulting from its operation of several oil platforms.  The case resulted in the company pleading to two felonies but no charges were brought against individuals
Environmental Civil Enforcement Matters
Case Citations | View All
  • Defended the former owner of one of the largest coal-fired power plants in the Country for NSR violations.  Successfully had the case dismissed at the U.S. District Court level and had that decision affirmed by the Third Circuit.  The Third Circuit decision represents the most searing defeat suffered by the United States in its 15 year NSR initiative, implicating a number of aspects of its legal theories.  My Client avoided liability of close to a billion dollars
  • Defended client in a multi-media enforcement action with particular focus on benzene violations arising from investigation of the plant’s operations after an explosion occurred at the facility
  • Defended three different pipeline companies in enforcement actions brought by the government under Section 311 of the Clean Water Act resulting from numerous and significant releases of oil from the pipelines;  in each case, the client incurred minimal injunctive requirements and among the lowest fines in relation to the amount of oil released of any similar enforcement actions brought by the government
Case Citations | View All
  • Took over the defense of a $100 plus million contribution action and convinced the trial court to reconsider a prior ruling, and then convinced the trial court to dismiss the action.  Was lead counsel defending the appeal.  The 11th Circuit affirmed the decision.  The case established national precedence on Section 107/113 issues
  • Negotiated a cash-out settlement with the government for liability associated with the client’s involvement in a mining site in a western state.  The cash-out represented around 15 percent of the government’s initial demand and around 7 percent of the client’s projection of clean-up costs.  The settlement was made possible by developing a sophisticated Burlington Northern defense to joint and several liability and a counter claim against the United States
  • Successfully mediated a private cost recovery case involving 70 parties and $40 million in clean-up costs at the Cinnaminson Superfund Site
Natural Resource Damages
  • Defended client from natural resource damage and cost recovery claims associated with the largest petroleum spill in the continental United States and seeking reimbursement from the Oil Pollution Fund under act of God theory, which led to an unprecedented NRD settlement package valued at less than $1 million
  • Represented major chemical company in a significant natural resource damages case on the Gulf Coast and convinced trustees not to pursue client
  • Organized and drafted client testimony on congressional oversight hearings on natural resource damages which led to the State of Pennsylvania withdrawing a natural resource damage action seeking up to $500 million against the client and others and re-evaluating its natural resource damage program
General Environmental Matters
Case Citations | View All
  • Worked with industry leader facing multi-million dollar compliance matters in several states to develop a multi-track compliance strategy to deal with the pending matters, restructure its compliance program and avoid future compliance problems
  • Obtained a temporary restraining order from the DC Court of Appeals preventing EPA from implementing a statutorily required RCRA regulation, (first third land disposal rule) which led to EPA’s modification of the rule prior to oral argument to accommodate my client’s concerns
  • Sued the United States on behalf of a client that incurred over $7 million in clean up costs as a consequence of oil spillage from one of its storage tanks; the suit was based on Section 311 of the Clean Water Act and claimed that the spill was caused by an act of God; the suit was settled, with the client’s insurer and FEMA reimbursing the client for all of its costs
Lateral Experience (1983-1987)
  • Assistant Section Chief of the Environmental and National Resources Division, U.S. Department of Justice; supervised 35 trial attorneys prosecuting federal environmental enforcement cases in the Northeast and Southwest; involved in developing national environmental enforcement policies and strategies
  • Trial Attorney, Environmental Enforcement Section of the Lands Division, U.S. Department of Justice; handled landmark cases in the area of Superfund enforcement, including United States v. Wade and United States v. Metate Asbestos Corp.
  • Assistant United States Attorney, District of Maine; litigated environmental cases and other criminal and civil matters
Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Education and Professional Background
  • University of Virginia School of Law, J.D., 1973
  • University of Connecticut, B.A., 1970
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Attorney, 1975 - 1976
  • U.S. Department of Justice, Environmental Enforcement Section of the Environmental and Natural Resources Division, Trial Attorney, 1983 - 1984 (at the advent of the United States' enforcement of Superfund)
  • District of Maine, Assistant United States Attorney, 1984 - 1985
  • U.S. Department of Justice, Assistant Section Chief, Environmental Enforcement Section, Environment and Natural Resources Division, 1985 - 1987
  • Admitted to practice: Connecticut, 1973; District of Columbia, 1978; Maryland, 1991
Professional Recognition
View All
  • Legal 500 U.S. in environment litigation, 2014
  • Euromoney's Benchmark Litigation - Local Litigation Star: District of Columbia, 2012 and 2013
  • Legal Media Group's (Euromoney's) Guide to the World's Leading Lawyers - Best of the Best USA in environmental law, 2008 - 2009 
Activities and Affiliations
  • Past Chair: Environmental, Energy, and Natural Resources Section, D.C. Bar; Government Policy Committee, Natural Resources, Energy, and Environmental Law Section, American Bar Association; Environmental Crimes and Enforcement Committee, Natural Resources, Energy, and Environmental Law Section, American Bar Association
  • Fellow, National College of Environmental Lawyers
Publications and Presentations
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Kevin A. Gaynor
2200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Suite 500 West
Washington, DC 20037-1701

Tel  +1.202.639.6688
Fax  +1.202.879.8888

Arbitration and ADR

Dispute Resolution - International


Energy/Oil and Gas Litigation

Environmental Litigation and Enforcement

Environmental Regulation and Permitting

Mining and Metals

White Collar Criminal Defense