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Lex Machina is excited to release its first Environmental Litigation Report. Environmental Litigation involves pollution, use of natural resources, protection of forests, rivers, plants, and animals, and other ways that humans interact with nature. The report focuses on the three-year time period from January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2018 to showcase recent trends.


Lex Machina’s Environmental practice area has six case type tags:  Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, CERCLA (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act), NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act), and RCRA (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act). Many of the analytics discussed in the report are broken down by case type tag.


The report covers the following analytics:

  • Case Filings
  • Case Timing to Key Milestones
  • Top Districts and Judges
  • Most Active Parties
  • Top Law Firms
  • Case Resolutions and Findings
  • Damages Awards

Highlights from the report:

  • Environmental case filings are strongly affected by multidistrict litigation (“MDL”), particularly the MDL surrounding the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. While the overall case filings are over 13,000 from 2009 to 2018, nearly 7,000 of these cases are associated with the Deepwater Horizon litigation.
  • When excluding MDL associated cases, Environmental case filings declined steadily between 2009 and 2018.
  • Districts in California are three of the top five districts with the most environmental case filings from 2016 to 2018.
  • Various government entities are the most active parties in Environmental litigation both as plaintiffs and defendants.  Similarly, the most active counsel in Environmental cases for both plaintiffs and defendants is the Department of Justice.

This report presents data from Lex Machina’s Legal Analytics platform. Using machine learning and technology-assisted attorney review, raw data is extracted from PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records), which contains documents from federal district court. The raw data is then cleaned, tagged, structured, and loaded into Lex Machina’s proprietary platform. This report is prepared by the Lex Machina Product Team using charts and graphs from the platform. Commentary is provided by Lex Machina’s legal experts.