Biography

Jeff is the Chair of Preti Flaherty's Environmental Group and a nationally recognized trial attorney and environmental lawyer. Before joining Preti Flaherty, Jeff worked at one of the largest law firms in the world and was a trial lawyer at the U.S. Department of Justice. Over the past two decades, he has worked as lead counsel on numerous commercial litigation matters and trials across the country involving antitrust, securities, intellectual property, anti-terrorism, and environmental law.

As an environmental lawyer, Jeff assists clients in environmental litigation, permitting, due diligence, risk management, and the allocation and mediation of liability among parties at CERCLA or RCRA sites. 

He has broad and extensive experience and has worked on over 50 CERCLA/Superfund or RCRA cases, including sites involving contaminated sediments and natural resource damages. He has also led cases involving the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Natural Resources Protection Act, and the Endangered Species Act.

Clients have described Jeff as “exceptional,” “very strategic,” an “excellent advocate,” and having a “complete and in-depth understanding of all the issues.”

Jeff has been recognized by U.S. News, Best Lawyers, as the 2019 and 2021 Lawyer of the Year for Litigation - Environmental in Portland, Maine. He is a recipient of the EPA's Gold Medal for exceptional service and several U.S. DOJ special achievement awards, and is recognized as a leading lawyer by Chambers U.S.A., New England Super Lawyers, Benchmark Litigation, the American Registry, and the Litigation Council of America.

In the last five years, Jeff has worked on the following representative cases: 

  • Lead Counsel representing group of over 70 companies (liaison counsel) in litigation against Occidental Chemical Company regarding CERCLA remediation costs associated with the Lower Passaic River in New Jersey. Manage all aspects of the case, coordinate litigation team involving multiple law firms, and appear for monthly for meetings with Special Master. Occidental Chemical Corporation v. 21st Century Fox America, Inc., et al. (CA No. 2:18-CV-11273) (D. NJ)
  • Lead Counsel in defense of RCRA citizen suit for injunctive relief associated with contamination of sediments in the Penobscot River, one of New England's largest river systems and estuary. Month-long trial in Federal District Court involved testimony from 22 expert witnesses in various technical aspects of contaminated sediment issues including: fate and transport, stable isotope analysis, geochemistry of marsh areas. Case is currently pending decision. Natural Resources Defense Counsel and Maine People's Alliance v. HoltraChem Manufacturing Company, L.L.C. (CA No. 00-69-BW) (D. Me).
  • Lead Counsel opposing multi-district litigation consolidation on behalf of one of nine parties opposing consolidation with 75 other cases. Jeff argued before the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation and was successful in opposing the transfer motion. In Re: Aqueous Film - Forming Foam Products Liability Litigation (MDL No. 2873) (12/7/18).
  • Lead Counsel in defense of state enforcement action seeking $250 million remedy to address mercury contaminated soils, sediments, and groundwater at RCRA and Maine Uncontrolled Hazardous Substances Site. Jeff did opening statements and all key directs and cross examinations in two week state administrative hearing that led to modified order saving client $150 million. Mallinckrodt US LLC and United States Surgical Corp. v. Maine Department of Environmental Protection, (CA No. AP-2010-19) (Me Sup. Ct.).
  • Co-lead in defense of citizen suit under the Endangered Species Act challenging biological opinion and incidental take status allowing hydropower project to operate. Jeff worked with a team of lawyers to dismiss the action in Federal District Court on jurisdictional grounds. Jeff successfully opposed the appeal to the First Circuit Court of Appeals and prevailed in defeating a related challenge in the D.C. Court of Appeals. Maine Council of the Atlantic Salmon Fed., et al. v. National Marine Fisheries Service and Brookfield Renewable Services Maine LLC, et al. ; USDC Maine 2:15-cv-00261-JAW; First Circuit 16-2155; DC Circuit 17-1003.
  • Lead counsel in defense of Patent Infringement case brought by manufacturer of Volt Amperes Reactive product. Jeff successfully argued Markman hearing and prevailed on 90% of terms argued, including key terms. Varentec, Inc. v. Gridco Inc. (CA No. 16-217-RGA) (D. Del).
  • Lead counsel in anti-terrorism case against large producer of bananas brought by citizens kidnapped and killed by terrorists in Colombia. Julin, et al. v. Chiquita Brands International, Inc. (CA No. 08-20641-CIV-MARRA) (S.D.F.L.).

U.S. Department of Justice Experience

As a trial attorney in the Environmental Enforcement Section of the U.S. Department of Justice, Environment & Natural Resources Division in Washington, D.C., Jeff led trial teams in federal courts across the country in a wide range of environmental cases. Cases and awards included:

  • One of the largest Clean Water Act cases ever brought by the EPA and DOJ
  • One of the first Clean Air Act cases under the New Source Performance Standards
  • Several significant natural resource damage cases
  • Numerous CERCLA and RCRA cost recovery cases

Prior to the DOJ, Jeff worked at White & Case LLP in Washington, D.C., where he worked on complex commercial litigation and arbitration matters involving antitrust, securities, intellectual property and international law.

Professional Activities

  • American Bar Association
    • Member, Natural Resource & Environmental Section
    • Member, Litigation Section
  • Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America
  • Maine State Bar Association
    • Member, Environment, Energy & Natural Resource Section
  • District of Columbia Bar Association

Honors & Recognition

  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Gold Medal for Exceptional Service, 2010
  • U.S. Department of Justice
    • Special Achievement Awards
    • Special Recognition Awards
    • Nominated by the Environmental Enforcement Section for the Attorney General Award
  • Recognized by Best Lawyers in America
    • Lawyer of the Year,  Litigation - Environmental (Portland, ME), 2019, 2021
  • Recognized by the American Registry
  • Recognized by New England Super Lawyers
  • Recognized by Chambers, USA
  • Recognized by Benchmark Litigation

Civic and Charitable Activities

  • E2Tech, Marketing & Enrollment Committee

Firm Highlights

News

48 Preti Flaherty Attorneys Selected by Peers for Inclusion in Best Lawyers in America 2021, Including 4 “Lawyers of the Year”

Forty-eight Preti Flaherty attorneys have been named to Best Lawyers in America 2021, including four recognized on the inaugural “Ones to Watch” list for attorneys earlier in their careers and four “Lawyer of the...

News

Eighteen Preti Flaherty Attorneys Selected as Chambers USA Leaders in Their Field

Eighteen Preti Flaherty attorneys and five practice groups have been selected for inclusion in the 2020 Chambers USA Guide to America's Leading Lawyers for Business , the highly regarded directory of leading attorneys and...

Publication

EPA Announces Temporary Relaxation of Certain Environmental Compliance and Monitoring Obligations During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Citing potential worker shortages and social distancing and travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, on Thursday, March 26, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that it would exercise enforcement discretion and temporarily...

News

Attorney Jeffrey Talbert Selected by Peers as “Lawyer of the Year” in Best Lawyers in America 2021

Preti Flaherty attorney Jeffrey Talbert has been recognized in Best Lawyers in America 2021 as the “Lawyer of the Year” for the Portland region in the field of Litigation - Environmental. Inclusion in Best...

Publication

Supreme Court Finds Clean Water Act Jurisdiction For Discharges To Groundwater

Today, in a 6-3 opinion, the Supreme Court held that a Clean Water Act (CWA) permit can be required for discharges to groundwater “if the addition of the pollutants through groundwater is the functional...

Publication

Environmental Alert: Supreme Court Finds CERCLA Does Not Bar State Law Claims

The Supreme Court of the United States on Monday issued a decision authored by Chief Justice Roberts with far-reaching implications for targets of federal environmental enforcement actions. The Court in Atlantic Richfield Co. v...