We help families. Pollution Law Watch is here to provide information to families whose home or neighborhood is threatened with chemical contamination. As those families receive typically one-sided information about the contamination from the polluter and their government, we tell those families what’s really going on, what they’re up against, and—most importantly—what to do about it. And we know. As the saying goes, we’ve “been there, done that.” We’re four lawyers—Shawn Collins, Ed Manzke, Norm Berger and Mike Hayes—who have worked together for more than 10 years, helping thousands of families whose water or air is contaminated, or who have been made sick by it. We’ve made polluters clean up the contaminated air and water, and for the thousands of families that we have been privileged to call our “clients,” we have recovered more than $65 million dollars. Our experience and expertise in this area has been the subject of a recent media report, including a summary of the environmental class action cases we have brought.
In this blog, we’re going to write about the things we’ve learned in the last 10 years as we’ve battled polluters, and sometimes government. We’ll tell you, for example, about “What to Do” if you find out that your neighborhood is contaminated; “Why We Shouldn’t Trust” what polluters say to families about that contamination they have caused; why notorious environmental disasters like the Gulf Oil Spill and Fukashima Power Plant Disaster in Japan have a lot in common with the thousands of seemingly smaller environmental problems throughout the United States; and how New Decisions coming out of our court system help, or hurt, the ability of families to hold polluters accountable for the damage and pain they have caused.
We’re here to help families. And, as our track record shows, we know what we’re doing.
Shawn M. Collins: Shawn Collins is a 25-year trial lawyer whose job it is to make polluters clean up the environmental problems they have caused, and compensate the families whose homes and neighborhoods have been invaded by the polluters’ toxic chemicals. He understands intimately the sense of fear and violation felt by any family whose homelife is threatened by pollution, and he has dedicated his professional life to helping these families, and holding the polluters accountable. One of The Pollution Lawyers, Shawn has been instrumental in restoring clean water supplies and safe homes to thousands of families, and in recovering more than $65 million to compensate them for injuries to their health and property caused by pollution. Shawn’s work in these areas has won him the distinction since 2008 of being named a “Top 100 Trial Lawyer” by the American Trial Lawyers Association.
Edward J. Manzke: With an extensive background as a plaintiff’s personal injury lawyer, he takes the lead on analyzing and litigating The Pollution Lawyer’s toxic tort personal injury cases. Ed has been selected by his peers as an Illinois “Super Lawyer”. Considered among the best in their profession, Super Lawyers represent the top 5 percent of the practicing attorneys in Illinois. During his 19-year career as a litigator he has mutiple million dollar jury verdicts and settlements, including several toxic tort cases.
Over the past decade, Ed has dedicated his professional time to environmental class action and toxic tort cases, fighting for the innocent victims of groundwater, air and soil contamination. He particularly enjoys representing “the little guy” in these environmental battles against some of the largest and wealthiest companys in the world.
Norman B. Berger: Mr. Berger, a trial lawyer with 30 years of courtroom experience, has been practicing in the field of environmental law for his entire legal career. Berger began his environmental practice as a government enforcement lawyer with the Illinois Attorney General’s office and later founded and ran the environmental practice group at a large Chicago law firm where he was involved in many of the major Superfund sites in the country, and litigated and counseled clients on a wide variety of environmental and business disputes. Driven by his heartfelt desire to “make a difference”, since founding his law firm in 1996, Berger has taken his years of experience litigating complex technical matters and focused his energies working on behalf of families confronted with the environmental problems resulting from industrial recklessness and governmental failures. He reads extensively on matters pertaining to the environment and has been a frequent speaker on such issues. His experience in the courtroom and with complicated technical and regulatory issues gives him unique insights into developments in the field, makes him a key contributor to this site, and key member of The Pollution Lawyers team. Aside from providing legal counsel to families and communities on environmental issues, Berger is a founding shareholder with the Chicago law firm of Varga Berger Ledsky Hayes & Casey, and past President and current Member of the Dean’s Council of the DePaul University College of Law.
Michael D. Hayes: Mr. Hayes is recognized for his experience and results in environmental and class action litigation. He has served as Chair of the Chicago Bar Association’s Class Litigation Committee, and is a frequent speaker on class action and environmental law topics.
Mr. Hayes’ practice includes working on many kinds of class action cases, including the defense of class actions in the financial services area. He is particularly proud, however, of his efforts for families impacted by industrial pollution, where as class counsel he has successfully represented classes of residents in environmental property damage litigation, achieving badly needed remediation of contaminated residential properties and safe drinking supplies for tens of thousands of people, as well as monetary recoveries well in excess of $60 million.
On The Pollution Lawyers team, Mr. Hayes quarterbacks the important class action certification, discovery and settlement issues that arise in these cases. He also leads the effort to oppose the polluter-defendants’ attacks on the families’ legal claims. Mr. Hayes and his colleagues have amassed an impressive track record on these issues, obtaining class certification in all of the cases they have brought to date and in the process creating strong legal precedent that will assist families around the country in future cases in this area. Mr. Hayes and The Pollution Lawyers have also won court approval of every class action settlement they have sponsored.
Mr. Hayes has been a practicing lawyer for more than 25 years. He received his undergraduate degree from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine and his law degree from the DePaul University College of Law in Chicago. He is married with three children.