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Career Biography

Paul M. Schmidt co-chairs the Zarwin Baum environmental practice group. He provides environmental legal services to a wide range of clients in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and the surrounding area, including real estate developers, industrial and manufacturing clients, municipalities, lenders, insurance carriers, individuals and non-profit groups.

For real estate clients, Paul advises on developing brownfields, conducting environmental due diligence, obtaining funding, cleaning up contamination and addressing numerous other issues, such as storm water runoff, sewage facilities, wetlands, asbestos and mold. He also represents clients on permitting and compliance issues in industrial operations, including waste, water quality, air, oil and gas drilling, storage tanks and radiation.

In addition, Paul represents clients in property damage, personal injury, cleanup cost-recovery, and other environmental litigation. He has appeared before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, Superior Court of New Jersey and Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board.

From 1997 to 2001, Paul counseled the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (PA DEP) Water Management, Sewage Facilities, Storage Tanks, Waste Management and Environmental Cleanup Programs. Prior to joining PA DEP, he was a Colorado Assistant Attorney General, assisting the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment on cutting-edge Superfund risk assessment, remediation and enforcement activities for major Superfund sites, including the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant and several mining sites.

Paul received his law degree and Certificate of Environmental Law from Pace University School of Law where he served as Managing Editor of the Pace Environmental Law Review. Mr. Schmidt received a B.S. in Biology from Kent State University and spent several years with environmental and industrial hygiene consulting firms before attending law school. Mr. Schmidt is Chair of the Environmental Advisory Commission of Springfield Township in Montgomery County, and serves as Co-Chair of the Sustainable Land Use Subcommittee of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Real Property Section.

Representative Matters

Advised a nationwide retail property owner on responding to a claim that a worker contracted Legionnaire’s Disease.  Assembled a team of public relations, medical, industrial hygiene, and other experts to quickly evaluate the claim, manage information and successfully demonstrate that the client was not responsible.

Advised a nationwide retail property owner on responding to a claim that employees were exposed to contaminants through a water cooler connected to a building cooling system.  Assembled a team of public relations, engineering, environmental, and other experts to quickly evaluate the claim, manage information and successfully demonstrate that no employees experienced any exposure to contaminants.

Represented homeowners’ association in the Public Utility Commission appeal of an electric utility company’s application to construct a 500 kV electric transmission line through client’s community.  Settled the action in agreement reimbursing client’s legal fees and providing client with substantial settlement funds and in-kind contributions.

Counseled a foreign company on the appropriate scope of environmental due diligence as part of the multi-million dollar acquisition of a heavily regulated precious metal recycling facility.  Identified and quantified significant environmental risks, enabling the client to avoid accepting nearly a million dollars of liability in error.

Litigated federal and state civil actions brought by several homeowner groups against Marcellus Gas production and drilling companies for impacts to private drinking water wells. In addition, litigated related appeals of PA DEP Orders to gas production companies.

Successfully litigated the appeal of a point source discharge permit for the largest gold mine in the State of Colorado, involving significant federal and state legal issues and complex technical issues requiring the expertise of multiple disciplines.

Guided the participation of a multidisciplinary team of experts evaluating cutting-edge human health and ecological risk assessments and response actions at the 25-square mile Rocky Mountain Arsenal Superfund Site. In addition, assisted in identifying and enforcing state environmental laws applicable to the Department of the Army’s response actions at the site.

Developed legal analysis successfully supporting promulgation of state radionuclide standards applicable to the federal Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant and assisted in identifying and enforcing state environmental laws applicable to the Department of Energy’s response actions at the site.

Counseled Fortune 50 company on appropriate environmental due diligence, site investigation and remediation of numerous properties acquired as part of multi-million dollar facility acquisitions.  Assisted the client to develop claims against the seller’s escrow fund and to rezone and convey various parcels, maximizing the client’s return on the acquisition.

Assisted a developer in satisfying City of Philadelphia’s stringent stormwater control requirements on a challenging property and managed the client’s various consultants in order to ensure efficient, timely completion of necessary activities.

Obtained the favorable settlement of an action by a national commercial/retail property owner in a suit against Fortune 100 companies seeking to recover costs to investigate and clean up hazardous substances.  The client had alleged the defendants discharged the substances at the client’s warehousing facility prior to the client’s ownership. 

On behalf of an insurance carrier, represented the installer of an underground storage tank system in an action brought by the owner/operator of a gasoline station following the release of gasoline.  Investigated the release and tank registration history and successfully tendered a claim with the Pennsylvania Underground Storage Tank Indemnification Fund (USTIF). 

Represented a consulting firm in a suit seeking approximately $10,000,000 in actual and treble damages for alleged failure to identify building defects during buyer’s due diligence investigation of a multi-building apartment complex.

Won the early dismissal of a serious bodily injury action filed in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court against an environmental contractor.  Obtained sufficient evidence during streamlined discovery to demonstrate the contractor’s duties did not include removing the specific materials, which resulted in the plaintiff’s alleged injuries.

Paul M. Schmidt secured a  favorable settlement on behalf of a client joined in litigation for allegedly causing the collapse of subsurface structures on an adjoining property due to improvements made on the client’s former property.  Mr. Schmidt first threatened to seek defense costs if plaintiff did not dismiss its mold claim filed under the New Jersey Environmental Rights Act.  Plaintiff dismissed the ERA claim, thereby eliminating plaintiff’s only basis for seeking attorneys fees.  Thereafter, Mr. Schmidt launched an attacked on plaintiff’s proposed expert testimony in a pretrial motion, and vigorously maintained that the client had no liability to the current owner of the client’s former property, who had joined the client in the litigation.  In the end, Mr. Schmidt successfully resolved the client’s exposure for approximately 8.5 % of the final settlement amount, leaving prior and subsequent owners of the client’s former property to pay the remaining amount.

Paul M. Schmidt successfully resolved litigation over past and future cleanup costs resulting from a leaking underground petroleum storage tank.  Mr. Schmidt developed a cost-sharing allocation for the various carriers and the insured, allowing the parties to dismiss the litigation with prejudice and before incurring significant litigation costs.  In the negotiations, Mr. Schmidt secured permanent resolution of the litigation by successfully rejecting prolonged efforts by two parties to include an allocation reopener.

News & Events:

Recent Successes:

Presentations:

“Disputes between Land Owners and the Gas Companies - Personal Injury and Property Damages”, Pennsylvania Bar Institute’s CLE Program “Hot Topics in Oil and Gas Law,” Mechanicsburg, PA, July 21, 2011


CERCLA and PRP Contribution Claims: Making Cost Recovery Work for You,” Brownfields 2011, April 4, 2011, Philadelphia, PA

“Fundamentals of Litigation Management,” for the Council on Litigation Management’s Live Standards Training Program, at United States Liability Insurance Group, Wayne, PA, October 18, 2010.

“Philadelphia's New Stormwater Fees: How Diversionary Tactics Can Pay Off," Pennsylvania Bar Institute CLE Program, Philadelphia, PA, September 15, 2010.

“Stormwater Utilities and Stormwater Billing,” Green Infrastructure Summit, Gilmore & Associates, Inc., New Britain, PA, June 16, 2010.

“Claims Arising from Marcellus and Other Deep Shale Gas Drilling Activities,” Emerging and Environmental Claims Managers Association Annual Conference, Captiva, FL, May 14, 2010.

"Who to Call & What to Do if the Inspector Finds a Concern", Philadelphia Dry Cleaners Association & the Korean Dry Cleaners Association of Philadelphia, May 14, 2009.

“Green Industry – Laws That Could Affect Your Business; Contract Principles Important to Your Project,” presented to the Montgomery County Industrial Development Corporation, February 24, 2009.

“The Impacts of Philadelphia Stormwater Regulation on Development,” presented to Bucks County Commercial Real Estate Networking and Exchange Breakfast, February 15, 2008.

"The Impacts of Philadelphia Stormwater Regulations on Development," Philadelphia Counselors of Real Estate, November 26, 2007.

"Stormwater Management: a Legal Perspective," Second Annual Mid-Atlantic Clean Ports Workshop, November 1, 2007.

“Stormwater Utilities in Pennsylvania,” Temple University School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, September 10, 2007.

“Practical Tips For Mastering Large Commercial Real Estate Deals: Deal or No Deal,” legal CLE, Philadelphia, PA, August 2, 2007.

“Common Environmental Obstacles in Real Estate Transactions,” presented to Bucks County Commercial Real Estate Networking and Exchange Breakfast, May 18, 2007.

“All Appropriate Inquiry and the Impact to EPA Grantees,” presented to EPA’s Region III Brownfields Grant Recipients Workshop, December, 2006"

“Offer of Judgment Rule in NJ,” presented to AIGDC, Inc.

“Natural Resources Damages,” presented to AIGDC, Inc.

“Environmental Disclosures and Conditions in Philadelphia Residential Sales,” presented to Aarch Realty LLC, April 12, 2006.

Articles
“Revisiting the Limits of Commonwealth Employee Immunity – FMS, Inc. v. Dilazero,”
Mark L. Freed, and Paul M. Schmidt, the Legal Intelligencer Environmental Law Supplement, May, 2010.

“Know When to Say When – Deciding Whether to Take Further Action on Conditions Identified in Phase I Assessments,” Legal Intelligencer, Environmental Law Supplement, April 9, 2007.

“One Size Does Not Fit All – The Importance of Tailored Environmental Due Diligence and Post-Transfer Activities,” Legal Intelligencer, Real Estate Supplement, March 26, 2007.

"Green Grows - Philadelphia's Laws and Policies to Promote Sustainability," Philadelphia Lawyer Magazine, Fall 2008.

Paul M. Schmidt

Shareholder; Co-Chair - Environmental Practice Group
P: 267.765.9636
F: 267.765.9676
pmschmidt@zarwin.com

Office:
Philadelphia, PA

PRACTICE AREAS
Environmental
 
BAR ADMISSIONS
Colorado
New Jersey
Pennsylvania
 
EDUCATION
B.S. in Biology, Kent State University
J.D. Pace University School of Law
 
MEMBERSHIPS
Executive Committee - Philadelphia Bar Association, Real Property Section
 
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