Peter R. Knight

Partner

  • Overview

    Biography

    Peter Knight is a partner in the firm's Environmental and Utilities Practice Group, where he focuses on environmental litigation, defense of agency enforcement actions, and regulatory matters. He regularly assists clients with private cost recovery and complex multiparty Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) cases and class actions, as well as environmental remediation projects.

    Environmental Litigation and Enforcement

    Mr. Knight has represented clients in complex environmental litigation matters across the United States. These claims typically are brought under a variety of federal and state statutes, including CERCLA, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. He has represented Fortune 500 companies in connection with the defense and prosecution of CERCLA cost recovery and contribution claims, including claims brought against the United States in connection with historical wartime operations. Mr. Knight's experience defending agency enforcement matters includes civil and criminal enforcement actions involving both land-based facilities and commercial shipping interests. A number of his maritime matters have involved major vessel casualties, including open water and coastal oil spills as well as container ship fires and explosions. Mr. Knight's class action experience includes both environmental and toxic tort matters, as well as consumer products and false labeling cases.

    Environmental Counseling

    Mr. Knight represents and manages the interests of large and small Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs) at a number of Superfund sites across the country. He has both negotiated settlements and managed multiparty cases to resolution. He regularly works with clients on all manner of environmental legacy issues involving indemnity claims, historical liabilities, and remediation obligations. Mr. Knight also has advised companies on developing and implementing corporate compliance programs and environmental management systems. 

    Government Investigations

    Mr. Knight represents companies and individuals in a variety of government investigations. While most of these matters involve state and federal investigations of environmental matters, he has also managed investigations headed by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Coast Guard, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. In many of these cases, which have spanned jurisdictions across the country, he typically works with the Environmental Crimes Section of the Department of Justice. Many of Mr. Knight's maritime matters have involved Coast Guard investigations and U.S. prosecution of claimed oil dumping by commercial shipping companies.

    Pro Bono

    Mr. Knight is the firm’s pro bono partner, a role which involves coordinating the firm’s pro bono initiatives, expanding the firm’s network of pro bono clients, and matching Robinson+Cole lawyers with pro bono opportunities. His own pro bono efforts focus on representing children in neglect and abuse cases through the firm’s long-standing relationship with Lawyers for Children America. Based on his many years of service to LFCA, the Connecticut Bar Association honored him with its Anthony V. DeMayo Pro Bono Award in 2016. Mr. Knight is also part of a team of firm attorneys involved in a pro bono project to combat poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking in Namibia, Africa by strengthening the country’s legislative framework.


    Mr. Knight has written and presented on a number of topics related to environmental enforcement, environmental regulation of commercial shipping, environmental disclosures, and climate change litigation. Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Knight practiced in the environmental and utilities group at Dewey & LeBoeuf.

  • Experience
    • Experience

      Experience

        Environmental Litigation

      • Represented transportation company in defense of an environmental class action trial in Massachusetts state court, one of the very few class action trials resulting from an environmental incident and, to our knowledge, the first environmental class action ever tried in Massachusetts. The case involved claims for property damage resulting from an oil spill in Buzzards Bay in 2003. The class was made up of approximately 1,000 residents from the Town of Mattapoisett who alleged their shoreline property was oiled as a result of the spill. The March 2010 trial, which lasted two weeks, addressed the claims of eight individual class members. The jury ultimately awarded a very favorable result for the client. The results of these initial cases were meant to provide the parties with a basis to resolve the remaining claims.

      • Represented nuclear fuel manufacturer in Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) cost recovery claim against the United States. The facility was contaminated with highly enriched uranium as a result of contract work performed for the U.S. Navy in connection with the development of the nuclear submarine program. Our client recovered a substantial portion of its multi-million dollar site remediation costs from the Government. The cleanup was conducted under the auspices of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

      • Represented nuclear fuel manufacturer in multi-party CERCLA cost recovery action brought by current facility owner against former operators and arrangers, including the United States. Current owner conducted multi-million dollar site remediation to address a legacy of radiological contamination.

      • Evaluated potential litigation against upgradient manufacturing facility in connection with complex sediment site in Bridgeport, CT.

      • Environmental Enforcement

      • Represented multi-unit residential property manager in resolving an expansive Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) enforcement action brought by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) involving mandatory lead disclosures to tenants and maintenance work performed under the Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule.

      • Represent former facility operator in connection with legacy PCB issues at a manufacturing facility in Muncie, IN.  The Indiana Department of Environmental Management issued a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) order to former and current operators.

      • Represented nuclear fuel manufacturer at the Colorado School of Mines Research Institute site. Negotiated a favorable settlement with the State of Colorado to resolve claims brought against operators and arrangers to recover its costs at the former nuclear fuel research facility.

      • Represent former facility operator in connection with legacy solvent contamination in the form of a groundwater plume at a facility in Chico, CA.  The facility is subject to an order by the California Department of Toxic Substance Control.

      • Represented former facility operator in connection with the North Penn Area 5 Superfund site. Successfully established that historical facility operations did not contribute to the groundwater plume that is the subject of the EPA action.

      • Advise former facility operator in connection with Clean Air Act issues associated with criminal enforcement case brought by the United States and EPA against current facility owner. Plea negotiations dovetailed with the facility’s acquisition and resulted in a negotiated resolution that allowed the transaction to be completed.

      • Maritime

      • Represent shipper of cargo on the MSC Flaminia, which experienced a major casualty in transit to Europe in 2012 resulting in crewmember casualties, lost cargo, and extensive vessel damage.  All claims have been consolidated in the Southern District of New York.

      • Represented tug and barge operator in connection with vessel explosion off of Staten Island. The EPA brought a claim against the operator under the Clean Water Act (CWA) due to resulting oil contamination. Our defense challenged the agency’s interpretation of “point source” under the CWA.

      • Represented commercial shipping company in the development and implementation of an environmental management system.  The EMS was a condition of the company’s probation arising out alleged criminal violations of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, which at the time resulted in the largest environmental criminal penalty in Massachusetts.  The client successfully completed its probation period without further government action.

      • Consumer Class Action Defense

      • Represented tea company in connection with consumer class action claims in California federal court.  The class representative brought claims alleging misleading packaging promoting health benefits of tea products.  The case settled after a series of successful dispositive motions.

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    • Professional Associations

      Professional Associations

      University of Connecticut School of Law
      Adjunct Professor
    • Honors + Awards

      Honors + Awards

      Robinson+Cole Pro Bono Service Award Recipient, 2014

      Connecticut Bar Association's Anthony V. DeMayo Pro Bono Award recipient, 2016

    • Community Involvement

      Community Involvement

      Lawyers for Children America

      Connecticut Forest and Park Association
      Board of Directors
  • NEWS + PRESS
    • Publications

      Publications

      "Regulatory Complexity and Ballast Water Management," published in The Maritime Executive, co-authored with Tavo T. True-Alcala (September 16, 2016)
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      "Mass Tort Claims Administration and Handling: Lessons from Deepwater Horizon," published in Environmental Litigation, co-authored with Alexander W. Judd, a publication of the ABA (Winter 2015)
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      "Certifying Environmental Class Actions After Walmart v. Dukes," published in Litigating Environmental Class Actions: Leading Lawyers on Successfully Guiding Clients Through Multi-Party Environmental Cases (11/29/2012)

      "The Indirect Regulation of Climate Change: Federal Agencies React to Congressional Inquiries," published in Bloomberg Corporate Law Journal, co-authored with Ronald W. Zdrojeski and David M. McCullough (Summer 2008)

      "Vessel and U.S. Port Emissions Update," published in MarineNews (12/2007)

      "Calls for Climate Change Reporting Prompt Companies to Evaluate Disclosure Policies," published in Law and Financial Markets Review (11/2007)

    • Presentations

      Presentations

      "Discussion and Screening of The Ivory Game," co-presented with Megan E. Baroni, Suzanne C. Ferguson, Sorell E. Negro and Kelsey A. Cross, at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Miami, Florida (2/4/2017)
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      "CERCLA Consent Decrees," hosted roundtable discussion sponsored by the ABA's Environmental Litigation Committee (2/17/2016)
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    • News

      R+C in the News

      • December 15, 2016

        Robinson+Cole's Namibia Pro Bono Project Featured in CLT

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      • February 24, 2016

        Peter Knight and Megan Baroni Conduct ABA Roundtable on CERCLA Consent Decrees

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      • February 26, 2015

        Environmental Lawyers Publish Article on Lessons from Deepwater Horizon

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      • October 16, 2013

        Environmental Lawyer Speaks at Global Shipping Conference in China

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      • December 28, 2012

        Peter Knight Authors Chapter on Environmental Class Actions

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      • February 1, 2012

        Environmental Partner Chairs ABA Panel on Environmental Class Actions

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      • December 22, 2011

        Partners Discuss Environmental Class Action Case at Boston Bar Association

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      • July 20, 2011

        Attorneys Peter Knight and Ronald Zdrojeski Quoted in Connecticut Law Tribune

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      • June 1, 2009

        Robinson & Cole Attorneys Coauthor Chapter in Climate Change Law Book

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      R+C News Releases

      • October 25, 2016

        Robinson+Cole Lawyers Take Part in International Pro Bono Project to Combat Wildlife Crimes in Namibia

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      • May 3, 2016

        Robinson+Cole Lawyers Honored for Pro Bono Service

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        • View article
      • June 24, 2015

        Robinson+Cole Lawyer Elected to Connecticut Forest & Park Association Board of Directors

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      • September 4, 2014

        Robinson+Cole Announces Annual Community Service and Pro Bono Awards

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      • June 21, 2013

        Local Organizations Recognize Robinson & Cole’s Pro Bono Service

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      • January 11, 2011

        Robinson & Cole Elects New Partners

    • Newsletters

      Newsletters

      EPA Report Addresses Voluntary Strategies for Reducing Air Pollution at U.S. Ports, co-authored with Tavo T. True-Alcala (October 14, 2016)