John Muir, a partner in the litigation and environmental sections, focuses his practice on environmental litigation and regulatory matters. Mr. Muir’s environmental litigation experience includes CERCLA cost recovery actions, property damage and mass personal injury claims arising from Superfund sites, product and premises liability cases and environmental permitting matters. Mr. Muir also has extensive experience counseling and advising clients on environmental regulatory matters including representing clients in PRP groups in multiple Superfund Sites, counseling on air, water, hazardous and solid waste permitting issues, as well as environmental aspects of real estate transfers, mergers and acquisitions, due diligence activities, environmental insurance coverage, corporate compliance and auditing issues, among others.
Mr. Muir also has experience in the investigation and litigation resulting from catastrophic explosions and in a broad range of personal injury, commercial, banking and first amendment litigation for corporate, individual and insurance clients. Mr. Muir has trial experience in state and federal court, and appellate experience in state and federal court. Mr. Muir also has significant experience in assessing and addressing the environmental regulatory components of significant transactions involving impacted real property, including reviewing the indemnity, warranty and insurance components of deals involving properties worth millions of dollars. Most recently, Mr. Muir has been involved in assessing the indemnity obligations for environmental liabilities in a transaction involving over $3 billion.
Mr. Muir graduated from Texas Christian University, magna cum laude, with a B.S. in Political Science in 1983. Mr. Muir graduated from the University of Texas Law School with honors in 1987. He is admitted to practice in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the U.S. District Courts for the Southern, Eastern, Northern and Western Districts of Texas and the Western District of Oklahoma. Mr. Muir is a member of the Houston Bar Association and the State Bar of Texas. Mr. Muir began his practice in 1987 with Liddell, Sapp, Zively, Hill and LaBoon (now Locke Lord), then worked at Mayor, Day, Caldwell & Keeton from 1991 until 2001 when he joined Baker · Wotring LLP at its inception.
Selected Environmental Litigation
• American Door Products, Inc. f/k/a A.J. May, Inc. v. Trammel Crow Company, First Industrial-Houston, Scott P. Sealy and Sealy & Company; In the 295th Judicial District, Harris County, Texas, No. 2006-57352; Represented third-party defendant in case alleging liability under the Texas Solid Waste Disposal Act as a former owner and as an arranger or transporter of waste to the Site. Successfully obtained dismissal of all claims after filing summary judgment. During the litigation, was also able to obtain an Innocent Owner/Operator Certificate for the client’s adjacent property declaring that client was not liable under the Texas Water Code or Texas Health and Safety Code for the contamination, including arsenic and related products, which migrated onto the client’s property. As part of the cleanup of the Site, the client’s adjacent property was remediated.
• U.S. v. Albert Investment Co., 583 F.3d 1386 (10th Cir. 2009). Part of environmental team that won a significant 10th Circuit appeal, successfully challenging the Government's long-standing position that a non-settling CERCLA PRP does not have a legally sufficient interest to intervene as a right to oppose a Consent Decree that would cut off the PRP's contribution rights. The 10th Circuit issued an opinion in favor of Baker · Wotring's client finding that it had a legally sufficient interest to intervene as a matter of right under CERCLA, reversing the district court's denial of their motion to intervene.
• Lyondell Chemical Company and Atlantic Richfield Company v. Albemarle Corporation, et al.; In the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Beaumont Division, Civil Action No. 1:01CV890 (2007). Retained by companies which carried out a multi-million dollar remedial action to recover costs from other Potentially Responsible Parties at the Petro-Chemical Systems, Inc. Superfund Site in Liberty County, Texas. The bifurcated trial lasted more than 8 weeks and resulted in final judgements against multiple PRPs.
• Ector County and the State of Texas v. Commercial Metals Company, In the 201st Judicial District Court; No. D-1-GN-16-001724. Retained by local government to litigate violations of the Texas Clean Air Act, Texas Water Code and Texas Health and Safety Code against one of the world’s largest metal recycling companies, resulting in an agreed judgment requiring the defendant to pay a multi-million dollar settlement to the governments and conduct substantial remedial work.
• River Front Properties Litigation. Handled multi-million dollar cost-recovery claim asserted against client by real estate developer under state law cost recovery statute for claims arising out of a Brownfields Redevelopment Project.
• Gulf Metals Industries v. Atlantic Richfield Company. Represented client sued under CERCLA and Texas Health & Safety Code for claim arising out of a state Superfund site which had been a formal commercial landfill, obtaining a nuisance value settlement for client.
• Elzina Avalos, et al. v. Atlantic Richfield Company, et al., In the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, Civil Action No. H-89-3487. Represented lead defendant in a series of toxic tort cases alleging exposure to the Sikes and French Limited Superfund Sites in Harris County. With over 1,700 plaintiffs, the Avalos case was the largest of a series of cases which had over 3,000 plaintiffs total. We were successful in having a number of the claims dismissed on summary judgment and settled the remaining claims prior to trial.
• Tronox Worldwide, LLC v. Atlantic Richfield Company, et al. Represented client in claim for contribution under CERCLA §113(f) and state law alleging that Firm’s clients were liable for releases of hazardous substances that migrated onto plaintiff’s property, obtained favorable settlement for client within less than a year.
• Hunt County and the State of Texas v. Republic Waste, et al., In the 200th Judicial District Court; No. D-1-GN-15-002833 and Kirk Grady v. Hunt County, Texas, In the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas; Civil Action 3:16-cv-01404-C. Retained by local government to litigate violations of the Texas Water Code against a Fortune 500 company and to defend claims for alleged violations of Due Process, Equal Protection and exceeding its statutory authority. The result of the litigation was a favorable settlement for the governments in the state court action and a dismissal with prejudice of all claims against Hunt County in the federal litigation.
• Harris County, Texas and the State of Texas v. International Paper Company, et al., In the 295th Judicial District, No. 2011-76724 (2014). Retained by local government to litigate Texas Water Code action against Fortune 500 companies for endangerment of public health, nuisance conditions and releases of dioxin into the San Jacinto River over a 40-year period. The case was tried over four weeks, resulting in the governments’ receipt of a multi-million dollar settlement on the morning of closing from two Defendants, which Harris County believes to be the largest Texas Water Code recovery for historic releases in the history of the State of Texas.
• Harris County, Texas and the State of Texas v. AT&T, In the 215th Judicial District, No. 2011-72150 (2014). Retained by local government to litigate Texas Water Code claims for underground storage tank releases against Fortune 500 Company, resulting in a multi-million dollar settlement for the governments.
• Dana Hilton, et.al, v. Flour Daniel, Inc., et.al., In the 215th Judicial District Court of Harris County, Texas, Cause No. 98-40585. Represented the plant owner in litigation arising out of the injury of two employees caused by an explosion in a processing unit. We obtained a non-suit for our client in the litigation. We also assisted the company in its investigation of the accident, represented the company in a related TRO hearing and in connection with the related OSHA investigation.
• International Paper Company, et al., v. Harris County, Texas and the State of Texas, In the Court of Appeals for the First District of Texas, No. 01-12-00538-CV (2013). Environmental Team won appellate decision, affirming local governments’ rights to use contingency-fee counsel against due process arguments, among other issues.
• Bertling v. Atl. Richfield Co., 95 F.3d 53 (5th Cir. 1996); Represented the defendant on appeal by the plaintiff of the district court’s granting of partial summary judgment in favor of the defendant on claim of economic damages allegedly caused by defendant’s disposal of toxic waste at the Sikes Superfund Site.
• Charles Roberts, Jr., et. al., v. Ford, Bacon & Davis, et. al., In the 190th Judicial District Court of Harris County, Texas, Cause No. 91-29720. Represented a defendant in litigation arising from a catastrophic explosion at a chemical company complex in Sterlington, Louisiana which resulted in eight deaths, numerous injuries and total damages exceeding $100,000,000. Our client was the manufacturer of the compressor from which the fire initiated that caused the explosion. We were successful in having two separate motions for summary judgment granted resulted in our client being discharged from the litigation without any financial payment to the claimants.
• Special Masters, Court Appointed Experts and Technical Advisors in Federal Court, 76 Defense Counsel Journal (2009) (co-author).
Offices and Appointments
• Houston Bar Association Environmental Law Section Council Member 2016-17.
• Houston Bar Association Judiciary Committee, 1999.