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December 15, 2021 PROFILE

Toxic Torts and Environmental Law Committee: A Legacy of Innovation and Leadership

Jeff Pypcznski and Meghan McMeel

For over 30 years, the Toxic Torts and Environmental Law (TTEL) Committee has proudly represented the American Bar Association and its members through research and development of cutting-edge programming and publications examining litigation trends and regulations involving toxic torts, mass torts, hazardous waste, chemical and pharmaceutical exposure, and foodborne illnesses.

Through the dedicated efforts of our prior leadership, including former chairs Edward Casmere, Kathy Strickland, John McMeekin, Jonathan Lively, Leland Kellner, and many others, our committee has developed a diverse and robust membership that includes equal representation of defense and plaintiffs lawyers, in-house corporate counsel, members of the state and federal bench, and insurers, as well as many expert consultants in the fields of toxic torts, regulatory analysis, and environmental compliance. We have a proven track record of developing committee leadership through several vice-chair positions, with opportunities every year to assume dedicated leadership roles and work as a team to direct the development and presentation of our programming. Our vice-chairs routinely interact and network with members, business leaders, and attorneys from around the country to develop and present CLE programming, webinars, and publications that provide the most current news, analysis, and trends among the fields in which we practice. We look forward to continued growth and distinguishing ourselves in the years to come as a committee that embraces teamwork and delivers the highest quality programming and content for our members.

This past year has presented many challenges for all of us, personally and professionally, but we are proud that our leadership was able to continue to meet and provide programming while adjusting to virtual work life during the pandemic. Instrumental in this effort was our past committee chair, Randi Mueller, who was recently nominated to serve as a circuit court judge in her home state of Mississippi. Randi and other members of our leadership developed a webinar that provided the most recent updates in cannabis law, glyphosates, and the e-cigarette industry. Panelists included the CEO of Origin South, Radford Slough, who addressed the regulatory compliance challenges that business owners face in the emerging field of cannabis, and Jason Lang, a certified industrial hygienist, who educated us on the science and safety aspects of cannabis use. The glyphosates panel examined the science behind the Roundup litigation through expert consultants Debra Kaden and Rachel Novick. And the panel on e-cigarettes included Mary Bielaska of Zanicorn International, who analyzed recent products cases, labeling litigation, and California’s Proposition 65 regulatory framework. A special thanks and congratulations to Randi, our vice-chairs, and the presenters for leading this effort and delivering an excellent program during a difficult year.

As we look forward to 2022 and emerging from our “virtual-only” interactions, we are proud to announce that our 30th annual Spring CLE Meeting will be held in person at the Omni Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. Our program this year is slated to include corporate counsel from Shell Oil, PetroChina International, Toyota, and Markel, who will provide in-house perspectives on recent litigation and regulatory trends. Also joining us will be experienced trial counsel from the plaintiffs bar, including Simmons Hanly Conroy and Motley Rice, who will discuss emerging issues and the future of talc and food flavoring litigation. We are all looking forward to returning to in-person meetings and programming and hope you can join us for what is sure to be an exciting return to form in Scottsdale.

In addition to our programming and publications, the TTEL Committee remains dedicated to giving back to the community. All of our CLE meetings include recognition of local charitable causes, which have ranged from donating eyeglasses for military veterans to collecting school supplies for local schoolchildren and districts to donating suits to job placement organizations. Each year, our committee appoints a vice-chair dedicated to working with a local charity and often has a representative from the organization present to the attendees.

So as we continue to return to the way things once were, we also look forward to change and development as a committee, and continuing to deliver high-quality content to our members, colleagues, and clients. We are thrilled to have many new vice-chairs joining us this year, and we invite you to become part of our team as we begin our plans for 2022 and beyond. If you are interested and would like to discuss further, please contact our chair, Jeff Pypcznski, at [email protected], or our chair-elect, Meghan McMeel, at [email protected].

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Jeff Pypcznski is counsel at Porzio, Bromberg & Newman, P.C., in Morristown, New Jersey. He represents corporations in product liability, toxic tort, personal injury, professional liability, construction defect, class action, and business litigation matters. He is chair of the Toxic Torts and Environmental Law Committee.

Meghan McMeel is a partner in the San Francisco office of Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila LLP. She handles complex commercial disputes in a range of areas, including product liability, mass torts, and toxic torts. She is chair-elect of the Toxic Torts and Environmental Law Committee.