Although he has been a litigator for nearly 40 years, for more than 35 years Steve has specialized in the defense of complex personal injury, property damage, and products liability claims. He has represented manufacturers of chemicals, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and machinery in hundreds of state and federal court actions and in alternative dispute resolution proceedings. From 2000-2005 he served as Managing Partner of Barg Coffin Lewis & Trapp, LLP. Steve’s litigation and trial practice has been built on a commitment to excellence and client service, attention to detail, and the ability to apply sound common sense toward resolving complex lawsuits efficiently and cost effectively. His clients find his style flexible, accessible, and responsive.

Practicing environmental law gives me the opportunity to regularly work with great clients and great lawyers to solve complicated problems.  In the course of helping our clients, I welcome the challenge of helping clients avoid litigation where possible, defending them from personal injury and property damage claims, continually evaluating emerging scientific and medical developments, and balancing public policy and environmental protection concerns.

  • Companies sued by municipalities and other water providers alleging pesticide contamination of public drinking water wells, including the defense of a former chemical manufacturer from claims arising from use of the agricultural use of various fumigants/pesticides
  • Companies in suits alleging diminution of property value due to the presence of chemicals in soil or groundwater
  • A chemical company in defense of hundreds of personal injury claims brought by banana workers in several Central American countries and the Philippines based on alleged exposure to the pesticide DBCP.
  • Several companies that owned and operated a former wood treating facility in a lawsuit brought by more than 2,000 plaintiffs in the Eastern District of California alleging violations of the Clean Water Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and seeking damages for personal injuries and property damage
  • A chemical company defendant in multiple actions brought by municipalities, water providers and landowners alleging contamination and subsequent closure of drinking water wells due to the dry-cleaning solvent perchloroethylene

WHERE THE LAW AND ENVIRONMENT INTERSECT

Steve’s litigation experience defending clients includes:

  • Individual and mass tort personal injury claims filed in the United States and overseas arising out of alleged exposure to agricultural and industrial chemicals in the workplace, air, and groundwater
  • Complex property damage claims asserted by individual property owners, municipalities, and purported state-wide plaintiff classes arising out of alleged soil and groundwater contamination by agricultural and industrial chemicals
  • Products liability lawsuits brought against manufacturers and distributors of pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and machinery
  • CERCLA litigation and litigation regarding compliance with a variety of state and federal environmental regulations

AWARDS + ACCOLADES

Since 2013, Best Lawyers has repeatedly named Steve as one of the “Best Lawyers in America” for environmental litigation. He has also has been honored as a “Super Lawyer” by San Francisco magazine in an annual survey of Northern California lawyers almost every year since the survey’s inception. Bay Area Lawyer magazine named him as one of Bay Area’s top environmental lawyers. He is also listed in the International Bar Association’s Who’s Who Legal.

EDUCATION

University of Colorado School of Law, J.D., 1975

  • Winner, Rothgerber Moot Court Competition
  • Legal Aid and Defense Program

Wesleyan University, Connecticut, B.A., Sociology, cum laude, 1972

The Thacher School, Ojai, California

COMMUNITY | OFF HOURS

  • Defense Research Institute, Member

PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS

Bar Association of San Francisco
American Bar Association

BAR MEMBERSHIP

    State Bar of California
    United States District Courts for the Northern, Eastern, Central and Southern Districts
    United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, Ninth Circuit, and Eleventh Circuit