Skip to content
Practice Area

Litigation

Sive, Paget & Riesel handles litigation and enforcement matters for a wide range of clients, from large developers and international corporations, to municipal corporations, non-profit institutions, family-owned businesses, and private individuals.  From the outset of our engagement through every stage of a dispute, we are able to draw upon our more than half a century of litigation experience before federal, state, and local courts, agencies, and tribunals to provide our clients with realistic strategies.

Environmental Litigation

We are nationally-recognized leaders and pioneers in the area of environmental litigation.  Our attorneys handle disputes in virtually every area of environmental law, including toxic torts, groundwater contamination, property stigma claims,  underground storage tanks and oil spill litigation, and cost recovery actions under state and federal laws, including the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act and New York’s Navigation Law.  Our boutique model allows us to bolster the strength of our litigation bench—which includes former federal prosecutors, former state and city attorneys, and former federal law clerks—with the practical know-how of our transactional, insurance, land use, construction, and permitting expertise.

Our proactive and creative approach underlies our successes, including the design of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) processes to resolve large-scale multi-party environmental disputes.

Construction Litigation

Our attorneys have nearly three decades of experience handling all aspects of litigation involving construction defect claims, delay claims, breaches of contract, and professional liability.  We staff all construction disputes on a case-need basis with oversight from our industry-recognized team of partners who regularly teach, write and lecture on all legal and practical aspects of construction planning, contracting, and dispute resolution. Our up-to-date knowledge and broad experience enable us to assist our clients in the identification, allocation, avoidance, and resolution of construction related risk.

General Litigation

In addition to our nationally recognized leadership in environmental litigation and growing construction litigation practice, we maintain an active, cost-efficient general litigation practice. Our attorneys manage commercial disputes involving matters such as zoning and land use, contracts, corporate transactions, and employment. Our attorneys have represented corporate clients in disputes arising from corporate transactions, and we are experienced in handling complex matters involving disputed liabilities arising from mergers, acquisitions, and asset purchases. We also guided educational institutions, local governments, and some of the nation’s largest corporations in the prevention and resolution of personnel disputes and claims of civil rights violations by public and private employees, officials and third parties.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

In addition to offering clients a full range of litigation services, our attorneys assist clients in avoiding and resolving disputes by employing various forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”).

Our attorneys have experience with arbitration, mediation, expert fact finding, facilitation, stakeholder involvement, collaborative law and other custom ADR proceedings. Several of our lawyers are trained and certified as mediators and arbitrators and serve as court-appointed dispute resolution specialists, as private neutrals and on dispute resolution boards. Our attorneys have employed ADR procedures in disputes involving environmental claims, insurance coverage, commercial contracts, construction, energy, FLSA, ADA, real estate, labor and employment, bankruptcy, toxic tort, and personal injury claims.

We are committed to employing ADR to bring about cost-effective resolutions to our client’s disputes.

Environmental Impact Review/Permitting
/
Permitting and Litigation for Government-Sponsored Developments

Chappaqua Central School District

Location: Chappaqua, NY | Date: 2003

SPR served as environmental counsel to the Chappaqua Central School District with respect to its construction of a new 750-student middle school, as well as additions and renovations to two existing District schools. SPR represented the District throughout the environmental review process, including retention of consultants, preparation of environmental documentation, including an EIS and SEQRA Findings, and presentations at public hearings. In addition, SPR assisted the District in obtaining approvals from the New York City Department of Environmental Protection required for construction within the New York City watershed. The Firm also successfully defended the District in litigation challenging its approval of the new middle school. The new school opened in October 2003.
Environmental Impact Review/Permitting
/
Permitting and Litigation for Government-Sponsored Developments

Bayonne Bridge Navigational Clearance Program

Location: Bayonne, NJ | Date: 2014

SPR represented the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (“Port Authority”) with regard to the environmental review and permitting of this project, which will raise the vertical clearance of the Bayonne Bridge over the Kill van Kull for larger container vessels. The environmental reviews were under NEPA, SEQRA and CEQR, as well as Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (“NHPA”). Permits from the United States Coast Guard, NYSDEC, and NYSDOT. The Firm also represented the Port Authority in the successful defense of federal litigation under the Administrative Procedures Act challenging the Environmental Assessment for the project.
Environmental Impact Review/Permitting

East River Realty – First Avenue Project

Location: New York, NY | Date: 2013

SPR represents East River Realty Co., LLC, as lead environmental counsel associated with the redevelopment of four parcels of property located along the First Avenue on the east side of Midtown Manhattan, which were the former location of Consolidated Edison's Waterside Generating Station. East River Realty intends to construct a significant, high-rise development on the site. As counsel to the project, SPR prepared the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) required for the sale of the property from Consolidated Edison, and is presently steering the proposed development through the New York City urban land use review procedure and the concomitant EIS process for the development plan. Moreover, SPR has overseen the challenging clean-up of the major former industrial site, including obtaining a Brownfield designation for the site.

Litigation

City Point

Location: Brooklyn, NY | Date: 2013

On behalf of project developers, SPR obtained dismissal of claims in New  York County Supreme Court brought under the State Environmental Quality Review Act to challenge the mixed-use City Point project in Downtown Brooklyn by community group and labor unions on statute of limitations and standing grounds.  SPR also advised the developer with respect to subsequent environmental review of project modifications.
Environmental Impact Review/Permitting
/
Litigation

Hudson River Park

Location: New York, NY | Date: 2013

From its inception, SPR has served as environmental and litigation counsel to the Hudson River Park Trust on major proposed projects in Hudson River Park, most recently Pier 54 and Pier 57.  Pier 54 will be reconstructed as “Pier 55,” a distinctive pier offering world-class recreation and performing arts events, with the support of a $200 million donation from the Diller/von Furstenberg Family Foundation – the largest gift to a public park in the history of New York State. Pier 55 was the subject of litigation in state and federal court for over two years, during which SPR successfully overcame a challenge to the Trust’s environmental review and a challenge to the permit issued by the DEC (as co-counsel with the State). SPR also helped the Trust obtain new permits after the donor terminated and then restarted the Project. Pier 55 is now in construction, as is Pier 57.

Brownfields Redevelopment

Lighthouse Landing

Location: Sleepy Hollow, NY | Date: 2007

SPR represents Roseland/Sleepy Hollow, LLC, as an affiliate of Roseland Properties, the developer of the former General Motors Assembly site in Sleepy Hollow. The proposed Lighthouse Landing development is a mixed-use project, including residential, commercial and open space uses on a 97-acre site former industrial property bordering the Hudson River. The Firm has advised Roseland with respect to its participation in the Brownfield Cleanup Program and its proposed investigation and remediation of this former industrial site. In addition to the Brownfield work SPR is also assisting with environmental permitting issues, especially those pertinent to shoreline development, as well as preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement.

Development And Land Use

Pier 57 Redevelopment

Location: New York, NY | Date: 2014

As counsel to the Hudson River Park Trust, the firm assisted in the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement for the redevelopment of Pier 57 in Hudson River Park, resulting in approval of the project by the New York City Planning Commission and City Council.

Queens West Development Corporation

Location: Long Island City, NY | Date: 2014

SPR represents Queens West Development Corporation (QWDC), a subsidiary of New York State's Empire State Development (ESD), in connection with New York's largest mixed use public-private development. During the early planning stages of this major initiative to redevelop a 74-acre area of the Long Island City waterfront, the firm provided environmental and land use counsel to the Urban Development Corporation (now d/b/a ESD) in connection with development of the General Project Plan and the environmental impact statement (EIS) process. It subsequently represented ESD in successfully defeating litigation challenging the adequacy of the EIS. The firm has handled all waterfront permitting issues for the development of parks and the waterfront esplanade, which involved obtaining permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and other agencies.

The firm represented QWDC over CERCLA action for response costs and settled. The firm assists in connection with all aspects of remediation of legacy contamination from the area's long and varied industrial uses, including remedies under auspices of either the State's Voluntary Cleanup Program or the Brownfield Cleanup Program, recently representing QWDC in a case over response costs. The litigation recently settled.
Litigation

New Hope Power Company

Location: South Bay, Florida | Date: 2010

The firm represented the Company and won summary judgment in the Southern District of Florida, which enjoined the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from applying rules pertaining to its regulatory jurisdiction over certain former wetlands.  The Court held that the Corps, by relying only on its own internal memoranda, had failed to properly promulgate the rules through the notice-and-comment rulemaking procedures required under the Administrative Procedure Act.  The decision has wide import, as it directly affects approximately 700,000 acres within the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA), and other hydrologically-managed lands nationwide for which non-agricultural uses may be proposed.
Litigation

2800 Hylan Blvd., LLC v. Motiva Enterprises

Location: New York, NY | Date: 2009

With the help of the firm, the client obtained judgment after bench trial awarding lost rent and attorneys' fees under the New York Navigation Law to the owner of a property contaminated by a gasoline service station.
Development And Land Use
/
Litigation

Battery Maritime Building

Location: | Date:

SPR represents the lessee/developer in connection with design services and construction contract negotiations and ancillary litigation concerning the rehabilitation of the City-owned “Battery Maritime Building” ferry terminal.
Litigation

Park Avenue Armory

Location: | Date:

SPR successfully sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and defended the environmental reviews for the renovation of the Seventh Regiment Armory on Park Avenue.

Cooper Union

Location: | Date:

SPR successfully defended a proceeding that sought to annul approvals received by Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, a private, tuition-free school established in 1859. The challenge sought to block Cooper Union's redevelopment plan, which is designed to improve and modernize its educational facilities in downtown Manhattan. The petitioners claimed that the City approvals did not comply with New York City's zoning laws, and that the EIS had improperly "segmented" the redevelopment project from the proposed development of another parcel owned by Cooper Union. New York State Justice Sheila Abdus-Salaam dismissed petitioners' claims in their entirety, finding that the City had properly studied the impact of the redevelopment plan on public facilities in the vicinity of the project and otherwise complied with the City's zoning procedures. The court also found that there had been no improper segmentation, because the EIS considered impacts from the other parcel owned by Cooper Union. David Paget and Steven C. Russo represented Cooper Union.

Next Millennium, et al. v. Adchem Corporation, et al.

Location: | Date:

SPR successfully represented defendant Adchem Corporation in a multi-party litigation involving years of discovery and motion practice.  Although this case arose under CERCLA and New York negligence law, its resolution in favor of our client turned on claims that involved corporate veil piercing, general releases of liability obligations of commercial tenants, and when a dissolved corporation can no longer be sued. The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit denied Plaintiffs’ petition for a rehearing en banc.

American Museum of Natural History

Location: New York, New York | Date: 2019

SPR is representing the American Museum of Natural History with respect to the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education and Innovation, a five-story, approximately 190,000-gross-square-foot addition to the Museum.  The Gilder Center will include new exhibition and learning spaces with state-of-the-art technology, modernized classrooms, and other Museum improvements.  The Firm advised the Museum during the project’s State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) process and is currently defending the project’s SEQRA review and governmental approvals in pending litigation in New York State Supreme Court, New York County.

Empire Stores

Location: | Date:

SPR serves and environmental and construction counsel for the developer in connection with the restoration and redevelopment of the historic “Empire Stores” warehouses located in Brooklyn Bridge Park.  The warehouses were initially constructed between 1869 and 1885, and were used to store coffee and other goods along the East River, but remained largely abandoned between the 1960s and the commencement of redevelopment in 2013.  Now transformed into an office, restaurant, and retail complex, the Empire Stores have been described as the “crown jewel” of the Park.

“Business and Commercial Litigation in Federal Courts 5th ed. ,” Contributor, 2021, 2022

For: Thomson Reuters, Robert L. Haig, Editor-in-Chief

Article Title: Business and Commercial Litigation in Federal Courts 5th ed.

November 1, 2022

“Practice Before the Commercial Division, Commercial Litigation in New York State Courts,” Co-Author

For: Thomson West, Fifth Addition

2016-2020

“Environmental Enforcement, Civil and Criminal”

For: Law Journal Press

1977, updated through 2019

“Water Transfer Rule and Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule Litigation,” Presenter

For: Arizona Water Law Conference, Phoenix, AZ

August 2017

“Joint Liability at CERCLA Mega-Sites: Technical and Legal Strategies for Addressing the New Paradigm”

For: ABA Live Webinar

December 2015

“NEPA and Little NEPAs and Environmental Litigation,” Presenter

For: ALI-ABA

1994-2013

“Current Issues in Real Estate Litigation,” Presenter

For: NYC Bar Association, CLE Program

November 16, 2010

“Defending Citizen Suits”

For: Chemical Waste Litigation Reporter, Vol. 47

August, 2004

“Administrative Enforcement for Inactive Hazardous Waste Sites, Administrative Practice Before the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation”

For: Course text for New York State Bar Association continuing legal educational and distributed as a course material for environmental law studies at Albany Law School

May, 1998

“‘Fold or Fight’ the Changing Settlement Calculus in CERCLA Enforcement Actions,” Co-Author

For: Vol. lX Fordham 469

1998

“Hazardous Wastes, Superfund, and Toxic Substances,” Faculty

For: Faculty, ALI/ABA Course

1986-1988, 1992, 1994