James M. Sabovich

James M. Sabovich is Of Counsel in the Orange County, California office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP and is a member of the firm’s Litigation Department and the Environmental Litigation and Mass Tort Practice Group. Mr. Sabovich has broad experience litigating in state and federal court on a range of environmental matters and issues. Mr. Sabovich’s litigation practice has included managing and coordinating multi-district litigation and foreign litigation, case management, pretrial motion practice, bench and jury trials, complex forensic investigation management, appellate litigation in state and federal court. His transactional practice involves providing environmental counsel to clients involved in corporate acquisitions, sales, or financing. Mr. Sabovich has extensive expertise in Mass and Toxic Tort Defense, Appellate Litigation, Environmental Support of Corporate Transactions and Business Litigation.
Mass and Toxic Tort Defense

Mr. Sabovich has defended clients in a variety of toxic and mass tort suits. He holds particular expertise in causation standards, fate and transport of chemicals, vapor intrusion, punitive damages, industrial practices standards, international toxic tort defense, discovery for foreign actions, natural resource damage valuation, judgment recognition standards, immunity for a defendant’s petitioning activity, and multi-disciplined forensic investigations. Representative matters include:

Defending energy company in foreign action brought by non-governmental entities seeking many billions in damages allegedly caused by past energy exploration and production. Theories defended against included regional cancer excesses, inadequate remediation, ecological loss, natural resource damages, claimed liability for region-wide soil and water cleanup, claimed liability for region-wide health care, claimed liability for indigenous culture restoration, claimed liability for region-wide provision of drinking water, and punitive damages among others. In addition to technical and more traditional environmental litigation issues, this representation included extensive fraud investigation, including through forensic linguistics, electronic forensics, and handwriting analysis.
Representing energy company in multiple proceeding that discovered evidence demonstrating that multi-billion dollar “special master” damage assessment against company in foreign proceeding was fraudulent.
Defending mobile home company in bankruptcy proceeding from claims of injury due to formaldehyde exposure.
Defending rocket manufacturing company in state court community exposure litigation alleging a range of physical and emotional injuries and seeking punitive, compensatory, and medical monitoring damages from alleged exposure to drinking water containing TCE and perchlorate.
Defending product testing company from community exposure suit alleging that waterborne TCE, perchlorate, and other substances caused death, injury, emotional distress, and diminished property values to those near the facility and seeking compensatory, punitive, and medical monitoring damages.
Defending product testing company in purported class action alleging that contaminants in groundwater stigmatized properties near the facility.
Defending Aerospace company in state court in community exposure litigation alleging personal injury, wrongful death, property damage and seeking compensatory damages, medical monitoring, and punitive damages from alleged drinking water and airborne exposure to TCE and PCE.
Represented wood treatment affiliate in community exposure case alleging exposure to creosote, PAH, arsenic, and other chemicals caused diminution in the value of nearby residences.
Representing aircraft servicing company in preparing for cost recover and tort litigation relating to aircraft refurbishing operations and TCE contamination associated with an airport.
Published Petition Without Prejudice: Against the Fraud Exception to Noerr-Pennington Immunity from the Toxic Tort Perspective, 17 Penn St. Envtl. L. Rev. 1 (Fall 2008)

Appellate Litigation

Mr. Sabovich has state and federal appellate experience on a range of environmental issues. Representative matters include:

Defending district court decisions granting discovery for use in foreign proceedings from appeals to multiple circuits.
Writs of Mandamus to the California Court of Appeal, and associated petitions and oppositions to petitions to the California Supreme Court, from trial court rulings denying summary judgment on punitive damages, denying summary judgment on causation, reversing burden of proof on causation, and denying a mandatory preemptory challenge.
Amicus brief and request for publication to the California Supreme Court in case expected to decide the standard for admissibility of expert testimony.
Defending in the Ninth Circuit trial court decision finding that indemnity in favor of client covers pending toxic tort litigation against the client.

Environmental Support of Corporate Transactions

Mr. Sabovich has extensive experience in providing environmental counsel for clients involved in or contemplating corporate acquisitions, sales, mergers, bids or the financing of such transactions. This includes environmental diligence, environmental compliance and risk management, and negotiating environmental deal points in these transactions. Representative matters include:

Represented international bank in over one dozen transactions involving financing the acquisition of a range of corporate entities, from custom automobile parts manufacturers to cruise lines.
Represented a trust in the sale of cement mixing operations.
Represented a real estate company in the sale of environmentally sensitive parcel in Hawaii.
Represented a holding company in the sale of a dozen for profit college campuses.
Represented an automobile salvage company in the sale of its operations and real estate holdings.
Represented a petroleum company in the sale of asphalt terminals, many of which were under active remediation.
Represented an internet company in the sale of local operations.

Business Litigation

Mr. Sabovich is experienced in state and federal business litigation and pre-litigation negotiations. Representative matters include:

Represented testing company in the Central District of California in suit to enforce indemnitor’s obligation to pay defense costs for pending toxic tort suits.
Representing companies in pre-litigation negotiations regarding the naming of clients in CERCLA contribution actions.
Represented consulting company in employment dispute alleging oral contract creating ownership interest.

Mr. Sabovich earned his law degree in 2001 from the University of California, Los Angeles, and served as an intern clerk in the chambers of Judge Harry Pregerson of the United States Courts of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and Judge David Carter of the United States District Court for the Central District of California. Prior to that, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree summa cum laude in Psychology from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, in 1997.

Good to know

Areas of Practice 1) Energy and Infrastructure, 2) Environmental Litigation and Mass Tort and 3) Transnational Litigation
Law School UCLA School of Law, J.D., 2001
Education California Polytechnic State University, B.S., 1997
Bar Member / Association California State Bar Association
Most recent firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
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