The Pawa Law Group, P.C. is a litigation and trial firm. We provide high quality legal services in a diverse array of practice areas. The common element of our cases is litigation and trial work. We are at our best when we are fighting for your interests in the courtroom.
The firm offers significant experience representing governments, large and small businesses, environmental and conservation groups, citizens, property owners, non-profit organizations and injured persons. We handle individual cases and class actions. We have litigated cases in virtually all courts in Massachusetts and the District of Columbia and in numerous courts throughout the country. Collaboration with other firms across the nation is a common element of our practice. We work on contingency, hourly and mixed fee arrangements and are open to creative billing arrangements that benefit the client and reward us for success. We handle every case with an eye toward taking it to trial and welcome the opportunity for trial. We welcome challenging, complex, and novel cases.
December 9, 2013. The Pawa Law Group, P.C. is pleased to announce a victory for its clients in a set of zoning cases following a trial led by Attorney Pawa in 2012. In today's decisions, Chief Justice Scheier of Massachusetts Land Court has ruled in favor of the Knapp and Michaud families, who own and operate Sweet Meadow Farm in Sherborn, Massachusetts. In one of the cases, the court has reversed the Sherborn Zoning Board of Appeals' decision that had ruled it to be a violation of the zoning laws to package hay and other animal feed products at the farm, which is located in a residential district. The court has held that the state agricultural exemption protects this activity as well as the sale of other animal feed products as essential aspects of the farm operation. In the second case, the court has held that the family's farm stand complies with state law.
April 9, 2013. The Pawa Law Group is pleased to announce that it has obtained a $236 million verdict for the State of New Hampshire in a case against ExxonMobil. PLG filed the lawsuit in 2003 on behalf of the State against oil companies that added the chemical MTBE to their gasoline. After the Pawa Law Group and its co-counsel obtained over $100 million in settlements, trial commenced against ExxonMobil in January, 2013. The jury deliberated for a mere 90 minutes today and came back with a verdict awarding the State all of the damages it had sought against ExxonMobil and rejecting all of ExxonMobil's defenses and attempts to shift blame to others.
March 18, 2013. The Pawa Law Group today filed a ground-breaking products liability case in California Superior Court on behalf of a three-year old boy who was badly burned by a CupSoup that tipped over and spilled it's scalding hot contents on him in 2012. The case was featured today on the nationwide news program CBS This Morning. To view the news program click here. The scalding hot soup caused severe burns to sensitive areas of the boy's body that have required skin graft operations and extensive medical care. The lawsuit alleges that Nissin, the manufacturer of CupSoup, defectively designed the product by making it unstable and susceptible to tipping over and spilling its scalding hot contents onto consumers. According to the allegations of the case, CupSoup is highly unstable due to its narrow base and other dimensions that make it top-heavy and easily tipped over. According to a story on NPR, instant soup products like CupSoup have caused a nationwide epidemic of burns of small children -- including many severe burns requiring skin grafts. To hear the NPR Story click here. While some kinds of instant soup are sold in containers that are wide and low and thus less susceptible to tipping over, other kinds of instant soup, like CupSoup, are unstable and tip over easily, according to a scientific study titled Instant Cup of Soup: Design Flaws Increase Risk of Burns, published in the Journal of Burn Care & Research. Small children are particularly susceptible to burns as they have more sensitive skin than adults and older children. The contents of instant soup, such as noodles, also tend to stick to skin, thus increasing the severity of burns. The Pawa Law Group, working in collaboration with the law firm Kreindler & Kreindler LLP, represents numerous children who have been burned by instant soup spilled from inherently unstable containers. This nationwide litigation is intended to change how instant soup containers are designed so as to protect children and stop the epidemic of burns.
Dec 6, 2012. Today an administrative law judge ruled in favor of the No Asphalt Defense Fund, represented by the Pawa Law Group, in an appeal of an air permit. The permit was issued by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to a concrete batch and sand and gravel plant in western Massachusetts. The Pawa Law Group took on both the attorneys for the plant and DEP. In a detailed decision, the administrative judge held that the plant is causing harmful air pollution and that the plant has failed to demonstrate compliance with the required limits on noise levels. The decision praises the Pawa Law Group's clients' testimony as "compelling" and "very credible" and attached "significant weight to it." The decision further finds the cross examination of the DEP witnesses by Pawa Law Group attorney Wesley Kelman to have provided important evidence in undercutting DEP's decision to issue the permit.
October 4, 2012. The Pawa Law Group is pleased to announce that today it filed, in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, a Petition for Rehearing En Banc in the Kivalina v. ExxonMobil case. The petition argues that the Ninth Circuit's recent decision, in which it held that the Clean Air Act displaces Kivalina's federal common law claim of public nuisance seeking monetary damages, conflicts with the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the Exxon Valdez case. In the Valdez case, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Clean Water Act does not displace a federal common law claim for monetary damages. As Kivalina argues in its petition, the same holding applies to the Clean Air Act. Kivalina, an Inupiat village in Alaska on the Chuchki Sea, has sued oil, coal and electric utility companies that are major contributors to global warming. Global warming is destroying the village by melting the sea ice that formerly protected the village from harsh fall and winter storms. In the lawsuit Kivalina seeks the funds necessary to relocate the village.
August 10, 2012. Pawa Law Group attorney Matt Pawa appeared on the PBS program Need to Know today as a legal commenter on the proposed petition by Palau regarding global warming to the International Court of Justice. Palau seeks an advisory opinion regarding the obligation of nations to control greenhouse gas emissions that harm other nations - in Palau's case threatening its very existence.
July 26, 2012. The Pawa Law Group today rested its case in a trial in Massachusetts Land Court in a case involving alleged zoning violations against Sweet Meadow Farm. The firm represents the farm in seeking to overturn a local Zoning Board of Appeals ruling that farms in Massachusetts cannot sell at wholesale any agricultural products that are not made entirely from crops grown on-site. Lead trial attorney Matt Pawa urged Chief Justice Karyn F. Scheier to apply the state agricultural exemption, which expressly exempts farms from local zoning ordinances as long as 25 percent of the products for sale from their facilities are produced by the owners of the farm. The case was initiated by neighbors who have a property dispute with the farm owners. Attorney Pawa rested at the conclusion of testimony from the zoning enforcement officer and cross examination of the neighbors who initiated the complaints. The court is expected to issue its rulings in several months.
July 11, 2012. The Pawa Law Group rested its case today for a citizens group, No Asphalt Defense Fund, Inc., in a trial of an air pollution permit. The permit was issued by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to a concrete batch and sand and gravel plant in western Massachusetts. Witnesses for the citizens' group testified about the effect the plant has had on their lives and homes in terms of dust and noise, and experts gave further testimony about noise impacts of the plant. The administrative law judge also heard testimony from witnesses for the plant and for DEP. The administrative law judge is expected to issue a decision on the validity of the permit in several months. PLG Attorney Wesley Kelman served as lead trial counsel for NADF.
November 28, 2011. Today Matt Pawa argued in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco on behalf of the village of Kivalina, Alaska, that is facing destruction from global warming. Click here to view his argument.
Sept. 20, 2011. The Pawa Law Group is pleased to announce that Matt Pawa is again a featured speaker this year at several noteworthy events. He was the featured speaker at the Boston Bar Association’s presentation in September on the Supreme Court’s decision in American Electric Power Co. v. Connecticut. Mr. Pawa also will be a featured speaker at Yale Law School on October 3d along with Steve Susman of Susman Godfrey LLP. On October 20th Mr. Pawa will receive recognition as an honoree of the American Lung Association at its annual gala event in Massachusetts. On November 2d he will be presenting a lecture in the series Climate Change to Global Sustainability: The Great Transition, jointly sponsored by the University of California, San Diego's Institute for International, Comparative, and Area Studies (IICAS) and the California Western School of Law. The Pawa Law Group also is continuing its tradition of supporting student interest and learning on environmental studies by participating in events at the local schools in Newton, Massachusetts.
April 29, 2011. The Pawa Firm is pleased to announce that today the US Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued a decision dismissing a challenge by the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Automobile Dealers Association to an important greenhouse gas regulation. The Chamber and NADA had sued the EPA over its decision to issue California a waiver from Clean Air Act preemption allowing the state – and others – to regulate automobile greenhouse gas emissions. The DC Circuit held that the US Chamber and NADA lack standing because they failed to demonstrate that any of their members would be injured by the EPA waiver decision. The standing argument was the sole focus of an amicus brief filed by two environmentally conscious and financially savvy auto dealers represented by the Pawa firm and our co-counsel Steve Hinchman. We argued that greenhouse gas regulations are good for business, not harmful to business. Our amicus brief (PDF) was cited twice by the DC Circuit in its decision (PDF).
March 11, 2011. The Pawa Firm is pleased to announce that today it filed a US Supreme Court brief for its land trust clients in American Electric Power Co., et al. v. Connecticut, et al., No. 10-174. In this important environmental case a group of States, a major municipality and three land trusts have sued America’s biggest global warming polluters. The Pawa Firm is counsel of record in the Supreme Court for the land trusts. The Supreme Court is hearing the case to decide whether massive greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to human health and ecological injuries can be the subject of a federal tort claim, whether there is proper standing, whether the political question doctrine bars the case and whether the Clean Air Act has preempted the tort claim. To read more about this case and see the Supreme Court briefs, click here.
Jan. 11, 2011: New Hampshire Supreme Court decides parens patriae appeal. The Pawa Firm is pleased to announce that the New Hampshire Supreme Court has held that the State has proper “parens patriae” standing to seek monetary damages for contamination of privately owned wells throughout the State in its case against oil companies that added the chemical MTBE to gasoline. The defendants had argued that the State could never pursue a legal claim to recover monetary damages for contamination in privately owned wells but the state high court disagreed and allowed the State to bring such a claim and to have the opportunity to prove statewide contamination in support of its parens patriae standing.
December 6, 2010: US Supreme Court agrees to hear global warming case. Today the US Supreme Court granted certiorari in Connecticut v. American Electric Power Co. The nation’s high court took the case following the Second Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling in 2009 that the case properly invokes the federal common law of public nuisance. In the suit, eight states, the City of New York and three land trusts represented by the Pawa firm seek to hold liable the nation’s five largest greenhouse gas emitters for their contributions to global warming. The Supreme Court will now hear the case to decide questions of standing, whether the Clean Air Act preempts the federal common law of public nuisance claim, and whether the case is barred by the political question doctrine.
December. 5, 2010: The Cape Cod Times has today run a story about Matt Pawa and the global warming legal cases he has brought.
November 3, 2010: Today the Pawa Firm is pleased to announce it has filed a brief in the US Supreme Court in the Connecticut v. American Electric Power Co. litigation. The brief, filed jointly with eight US states and the City of New York, opposes the petition of the nation’s largest greenhouse gas polluters, who have urged the high court to hear the case. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals previously ruled in favor of the States and land trusts represented by the Pawa firm and held that the case is a proper federal tort case and should proceed. Today’s filing seeks to preserve that court of appeals decision by urging the Supreme Court to reject the polluters’ petition for review. To see the filings in the Supreme Court, see links below:
August 31, 2010: Cape Wind Breaking News. The Pawa Firm is pleased to announce today that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court today affirmed the decision of the state Energy Facility Siting Board to issue a composite certificate to Cape Wind. The Pawa Firm represents intervenor Clean Power Now, which played an integral role in obtaining the composite certificate at the EFSB and which urged the state high court to affirm the certificate. Today’s decision means that Cape Wind now has in hand all state permits for the transmission line for the wind project in Nantucket Sound.
March 18, 2010: Amicus Briefs filed Kivalina Case. The Pawa Firm is pleased to report the filing of amicus briefs in support of its Ninth Circuit brief in Native Village of Kivalina v. ExxonMobil Corp. Amicus briefs were filed by renewable energy companies and by a group of law professors.
March 10, 2010: The Pawa firm today filed the opening brief in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in the case of Kivalina versus ExxonMobil Corp.
March 8, 2010: Global Warming Lawsuit Announcement. The Pawa Firm is pleased to announce that the Second Circuit Court of Appeals has denied the defendants’ petition for rehearing or rehearing en banc in Connecticut, et al. v. American Electric Power Co., et al. In September, 2009 the Pawa Firm and its partners won a major victory when the court reinstated this case by eight states, the City of New York and three land trusts in a sweeping ruling in our favor. We have sued the five largest greenhouse gas emitters in the country (electric power corporations that burn large quantities of fossil fuels) and we seek a court order to reduce GHG emissions under the common law of public nuisance. Today the court denied defendants’ petition that sought to have the full court of all active Second Circuit judges reconsider the decision.
February 3, 2010: Today attorney Matt Pawa appeared in Boston Municipal Court to represent, pro bono, global warming protestors who slept out on the Boston Commons to call attention to global warming. The Pawa Firm represents climate scientist Dr. James Hansen; author-activist-350.org leader Bill McKibben; and statewide coordinator of The Leadership Campaign Craig Altemose. Over 200 people, mostly students, slept out on the Boston Commons in late 2009 to call on the Massachusetts legislature to take action on global warming. The police ordered the protestors to leave or face criminal trespass charges. The protestors stayed put for the night. Today the prosecutors dropped all criminal charges. The Pawa Firm was joined by attorney James Budreau in its representation of Hansen, McKibben, and Altemose.
January 27, 2010: Today the New York Times has published a major story on our global warming tort cases.
October 23, 2009: The Pawa Firm announces the filing of a class action case against the Bridgeport Port Authority seeking a refund of unconstitutional ferry fees charged to passengers on ferry travel between Bridgeport, Connecticut and Port Jefferson, New York. A federal district court recently held that the Bridgeport Port Authority was violating the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution by charging ferry passengers excessive fees; the court enjoined the fees in a case filed by the ferry company. The class action case filed today by the Pawa Firm and Connecticut lawyer Neal Moskow of Ury & Moskow LLC seeks refunds for those passengers who paid the unconstitutional fees.
Sept. 21, 2009: Today the Pawa Firm is pleased to announce a victory in the Connecticut and Open Space Institute versus American Electric Power Co. cases In these two combined public nuisance lawsuits, a group of eight states and the City of New York, along with three land trusts represented by the Pawa firm, sued companies that in 2004, when the case was filed, were the five largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the nation. In these cases the plaintiffs seek a court order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the common law doctrine of public nuisance. A district court judge dismissed the case as a political question in 2005. Today the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the case does not present a political question but rather a legal question, that all plaintiffs have proper standing, that we have stated a proper claim under the federal common law of public nuisance and that our public nuisance claim is not preempted.
To read news articles regarding the Second Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision, click on these links:
August 21, 2009: Today the New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled in favor of the State of New Hampshire in its interlocutory appeal in the MTBE case. The state Supreme Court, reversing the trial court, held that the State had properly served two of the defendants while the case was pending in federal court and prior to remand to state court. The two defendants had challenged the state court’s jurisdiction over them on the ground that the federal court had lacked subject matter jurisdiction at the time they were served. The high court disagreed and ruled today that the defendants were properly served.
June 16, 2009: The Pawa Firm today argued an appeal in the New Hampshire Supreme Court in the MTBE case. The appeal addresses whether two oil companies that are alleged to have added MTBE to gasoline were properly brought into the case at a time when the case was pending in federal court. The case has since been returned to state court and the two new defendants claim the federal actions bringing them into the case should be given no credence in state court.
June 8, 2009: The Pawa Law Group, P.C. honors the memory of Luke Cole, who died in a tragic accident last week. Cole was the President of the Center on Race Poverty and the Environment and a leader in our global warming case on behalf of Kivalina.
The Pawa Firm attorneys and staff were privileged to have known and worked with Luke and to have become his friends. Luke was not only a great legal mind but a generous and kind spirit. We look forward to participating in memorials to Luke and in carrying on his important work. We offer our deepest condolences to his family. We urge all those wishing to honor his work to make a contribution to CRPE.
May 19, 2009: The Pawa Firm is pleased to announce a major victory in the clean car cases (“Pavley cases”). General Motors, Chrysler and their trade associations have given up the fight against state greenhouse gas laws. Under a settlement announced today, the automakers will comply with new federal standards that are at least as stringent as the state laws they have been fighting against for years. They agreed to stay their lawsuits and, upon issuance of the new federal rules, dismiss them.