Environmental Law Practice Group

Pullin, Fowler and Flanagan, PLLC, has a great deal of experience in defending businesses in a variety of industries in claims involving environmental law issues. Environmental law has many facets, including water contamination, air pollution and flooding.

One of the most prominent environmental law issues in West Virginia involves flooding due to industrial use of and changes to land. In 2004, the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia considered several certified questions which centered around the liability of both landowners and businesses who had used the land for timbering and mining. The plaintiffs in those cases alleged that the alteration of the land caused flooding of nearby homes and businesses. In addressing the liability of landowners, the Court stated that “in determining whether a landowner acted reasonably in dealing with surface water pursuant to the ‘reasonable use’ rule … a jury generally should consider all relevant circumstances, including such factors as the amount of harm caused, foreseeability of harm on the part of the landowner making alteration in the flow of surface waters, the purpose or motive with which the landowner acted, etc.” In re Flood Litigation, 216 W.Va. 534 (2004). The Court went on to find that where an usual rainfall event of an unforeseeable nature “combines with a defendant’s actionable conduct to cause flood damage, and where it is shown that a discrete portion of the damage complained of was unforeseeable and solely the result of such event and in no way fairly attributable to the defendant’s conduct, the defendant is liable only for the damages that are fairly attributable to the defendant’s conduct.” Therefore, to establish liability against a defendant, the plaintiff must establish that the alleged damages are attributable to the defendant’s conduct and that all relevant circumstances must be considered, including the foreseeability of harm. The attorneys at Pullin, Fowler and Flanagan diligently defend their timber, coal, land development and other municipal and industrial clients against such claims.

For more information, contact a Pullin, Fowler, Flanagan, Brown & Poe, PLLC environmental law attorney.