This article is part of our Advanced Practitioner Series, which is designed to provide our readers with expert analysis of trends, as well as advanced practice tips, in established practice areas. The series also covers professional and career issues of interest to environmental, energy, and natural resources lawyers.
For private parties faced with valid natural resource damages (NRD) liability claims, the objective is to achieve a reasonable resolution, minimizing transaction costs to the greatest degree possible. Often—especially in large cases with significant exposure and/or aggressive trustee claimants—the best way to reach an acceptable settlement is to prepare to litigate the matter through trial. In making this decision it is imperative to understand what could lie ahead. While most NRD cases settle long before trial, there have been several cases that have been tried in court or progressed substantially toward trial. Our book, Natural Resource Damages: A Guide to Litigating and Resolving NRD Cases, includes case studies from 10 important NRD trials or near trials. This article provides some of the key “lessons learned” from both our extensive experience litigating major NRD cases and from studying the litigations discussed in the book.