Catastrophic losses are tragic and complicated. Fires, explosions, and product failures do not always follow logical paths and they can have many causes. Often, the incident itself will destroy crucial evidence. Worse yet, evidence spoliation can occur from an investigation that is not sensitive to securing and preserving the scene and its artifacts.
Our Catastrophic Loss Team has handled thousands of losses nationwide, including losses involving churches, hospitals, assisted-living facilities, universities, hotels and casinos, manufacturing facilities, power generation plants and distribution systems, chemical processing plants, pharmaceutical plants, mining operations, residences, apartments, condominiums, and other multi-unit housing, tanker truck ruptures, underground storage tanks, pipelines, refineries, warehouses, hazardous waste facilities, restaurants and other commercial structures, and agri-business sites.
Meagher + Geer’s Catastrophic Loss Team is unique because of our technically trained and litigation savvy attorneys. Our attorneys “speak the language” of the technical experts and, therefore, provide unparalleled legal strategy from the outset of an incident, when the event is still fresh, rather than waiting until the start of litigation. Once litigation starts, our experience in both the field and the court room allows Meagher + Geer to handle defense and recovery matters involving any type of catastrophic incident from site investigation through trial. The Team includes attorney-engineers, scientists, and technicians. We offer our clients incomparable experience handling catastrophic loss investigations and litigation.
Technically trained and experienced attorneys: Meagher + Geer’s technically trained attorneys are not only trial attorneys, but also they have degrees and industry experience in engineering and science that distinguish us from our peers. Our team includes degreed chemical, structural, and mechanical engineers, and an International Association of Arson Investigators (“IAAI”) Certified Fire Investigator (“CFI”) who investigated more than 1,000 fires and explosions while working for the North Carolina Department of Justice and North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation. Our attorneys are trained and certified through courses at technical colleges and industry and sector associations, including: fire protection equipment/fire sprinkler systems (installer/inspector/fire protection engineer); HAZMAT (HAZWOPPER 1910.120(q) ProBoard Certified); fuel gas (CETP); incident command (NIMS, Safety Officer, Branch Officer and Radiation Officer); regulatory agencies’ “boot camp” modules (OSHA/MSHA); and Certified Fire and Explosion Investigators (CFEI). Because of our experience and qualifications, our attorneys are instructors at the National Fire Academy in Maryland, the ATF Fire Academy in Georgia (Federal Law Enforcement Training Center), numerous local chapters of the IAAI, the IAAI International Conference, and at seminars throughout the country for insurers, industry entities, and state and local agencies/organizations. We also teach with industry leaders such as DuPont Emergency Response and Viking Explosives (institute makers of explosives) at national and international conferences. In addition, we are members of ASTM, IAAI, and other organizations and, within these organizations, we are on boards and/or committees that create the standards that are incorporated into industry guides. We routinely use these standards in our practice.
An immediate response to a loss can be critical to minimizing damages and exposure, and maximizing subrogation recovery. Meagher + Geer’s Catastrophic Loss Team has a 24-hour emergency hotline (877.635.8663) and rapid-response capabilities. Our technically trained Team of attorneys can be on the scene of an accident within hours, securing it from further destruction, preserving evidence, and planning a defense or recovery strategy. At the scene, we work with local fire marshals and law enforcement officials to ensure that critical evidence is properly preserved. We immediately begin to determine what happened and who might be responsible, all the while delivering accurate information to decision-making authorities.
Meagher + Geer has strong relationships and works with an exemplary team of experts that is spread across the country. Not all people who identify themselves as experts should be experts. Our team of experts, however, includes qualified, certified, and competent individuals who have been vetted and can be trusted to handle and perform the assignments that they receive. They are also The expert team includes: CFIs, engineers, former ATF agents, law enforcement and fire department personnel, contractors, design professionals, inspectors, and highly experienced people from other disciplines. Between our attorneys and experts, we canvass the country with certified, qualified, and competent personnel. Because of our relationships with the experts, we are able to retain the experts and get them to the accident site within hours after the incident.
Through the ongoing education and training of our team, we ensure that our attorneys are certified, qualified, and competent, and that our attorneys have strong relationships with the best experts throughout the country. By meeting these standards, we not only provide an unequalled quality of work, but also save clients the cost of locating and vetting qualified, certified, and competent counsel and experts and the costs associated with training your own people to perform work that our Catastrophic Loss team performs. Further, our qualifications and experience create cost savings for you because you do not have to address the errors and unnecessary work that come with counsel and experts who are not qualified, certified, and competent. We train our team so that you will reap the benefits of our team’s qualifications at no additional cost to you. We are able to lead investigations, easily understand the expert’s findings and reports, communicate complex ideas in easy-to-understand terms, and control costs.
We represent product designers, manufacturers, contractors, fuel gas suppliers, commercial and industrial risk property insurers, and other similar companies across the nation. Our cases have involved propane, natural gas, and anhydrous-ammonia explosions, mechanical system failures, fire suppression system failures, water damage, mold, odor, chemical release, electrical fires, chemical-processing explosions, tanker-trailer rollovers, railroad derailments, structural collapse, consumer-product injuries, and all manner of catastrophic loss.
The field and litigation expertise of Meagher + Geer’s attorneys also allows them to provide unparalleled service as problem solvers. This service goes beyond identifying the origin and cause of an incident and handling a case through trial. Meagher + Geer is able to solve the problems that arise throughout the forensic-investigation and litigation processes that may impact the client as much, if not more than, the immediate incident itself, including: communicating with local and Federal agencies, creating site conditions that allow the scene to be utilized for its intended purpose as soon as possible, and identifying the impact of an incident on the client’s site process as a whole.
How can we be of service to you?
If you would like more information on this practice area or would like to discuss a specific matter, please contact the Catastrophic Loss Practice Group Chair, Chad Stepan.
If you have an emergency situation, please call our Catastrophic Loss 24-hour Hotline at 877-635-8663.
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“We have conducted forensic investigations on chemical release and fire/explosion with members of the Team. We find them to be exceptionally qualified, certified and competent.”
DuPont Emergency Response
“The combination of technical and legal skills is the difference between controlling the crisis and being in the midst of a crisis.”
CEO, Viking Explosives
“Their technical expertise and knowledge of chemical and structural hazards shows in the thoroughness of their investigations. This expertise is valuable in the prevention of problems with federal and state regulations.”