Phillips Lytle’s Managing Partner and a formidable environmental lawyer providing strategic counsel to clients with regulatory compliance and transactional matters as well as in environmental and toxic tort litigation on a national level.
Drawing from experience as Phillips Lytle’s Trial Department Administrator, Environmental Practice Team Leader and Governing Committee member, Kevin manages day-to-day operations of the firm and leads its administrative departments, practice group leaders and office leaders. As Managing Partner, Kevin also leads the Governing Committee in setting the firm’s strategic goals and initiatives. His role focuses on implementing plans to accomplish the Firm’s objectives to assure Phillips Lytle’s position as a premier source of sophisticated legal counsel, a trusted legal advisor to its clients, and a destination for exceptional, diverse legal talent in its markets.
With a practice focused on both transactional and litigation sides of environmental law, Kevin is a leading “Top Ranked” lawyer in Environmental Law in Chambers USA. An effective and efficient legal advisor, Kevin counsels clients on environmental compliance with respect to permits, investigations and enforcement proceedings by state and federal agencies, and on environmental issues arising in corporate, commercial and lending transactions. An experienced litigator, with a track record of successfully resolving disputes, Kevin zealously defends clients in environmental cost-recovery claims, toxic exposure lawsuits, and engineering and professional malpractice claims. He also represents clients in disputes involving patents, licenses, trademarks and other intellectual property. Kevin is known for his exceptional negotiation skills, and serves as a court-designated mediator in the Western District of New York.
With a degree in mechanical and metallurgical engineering, Kevin worked in manufacturing management for five years before starting law school. Kevin clerked for the Hon. Richard C. Cardamone, Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit after graduation.
Named the Best Lawyers® Environmental Law “Lawyer of the Year” in Buffalo, 2015, 2017, 2019
Named the Best Lawyers® Litigation – Environmental “Lawyer of the Year” in Buffalo, 2013, 2022
City & State, Law Power 100, 2022-2023
Buffalo Business First, Power 250 List, 2017-2023
Listed in Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, 2013-2023
Top Ranked, 2020-2021
Upstate New York Super Lawyers® list, 2007-2023
Named Top 50 Lawyer, 2010, 2012
Buffalo Business First, C-Level Executives Award, 2021
City & State, Western New York Power 100, 2021
The Daily Record, Power 50 List – Law, 2021
Listed in Legal Elite of WNY, Business First of Buffalo and Buffalo Law Journal, 2017-2020
Legal Leader, 2018-2019
Litigation Counsel of America, Fellow
Order of Veritas, Barrister
Order of Certus, Advocate
Trial Law Institute, Member
Diversity Law Institute, Member
Awards & Certifications
Education & Admissions
Harvard Law School, October 2016
– Executive Education | Leadership in Law Firms
Vermont Law School, J.D., summa cum laude, 1991
University of Connecticut, B.S., Mechanical and Metallurgical Engineering, 1983
Admitted to Practice
U.S. District Court, Southern District of California
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois
U.S. District Court, Northern of New York
U.S. District Court, Western District of New York
U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit
Hon. Richard C. Cardamone; U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, 1991-1992
Represents clients in state and federal court and before administrative panels and arbitration tribunals, in enforcement proceedings and cost recovery actions brought by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and in citizen suits and private-cost recovery claims commenced under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Clean Water Act (CWA), and New York’s Oil Spill Act. Also assists clients in defending and challenging New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) and other agency decisions pursuant to Article 78 of the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules.
Successful defense and dismissal, on insufficient pleading and other legal grounds, of individual and class action personal injury and property damage toxic tort claims under various state common laws arising from alleged migration of contamination from landfill, following multiple motions to dismiss and for other relief (Bellafaire v. Town of Wheatfield, 401 F.Supp. 3d 405 (W.D.N.Y. 2019);
Successful defense and dismissal, on insufficient pleading and pre-emption grounds, of individual and class action personal injury and property damage toxic tort claims under various state common laws arising from alleged failed remediation of adjacent landfill (Salerno v. City of Niagara Falls, ___ F.3d ___ (2d Cir. 2021));
Successful joint defense and dismissal of state tort claims by adjacent property owner on statute of limitations and pre-emption grounds (EPK Props., LLC v. Pfohl Brothers Landfill Site Steering Comm., 159 A.D.3d 1567 (4th Dep’t 2018);
Successful challenge of town’s failure to act with respect to telecommunications tower under Telecommunications Act of 1996 (New Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC v. Town of Fenton, 843 F. Supp. 2d 236 (N.D.N.Y. 2012));
Successful settlement of government CERCLA claims following intervention by non-party to appear and oppose entry of consent decree (United States v. ExxonMobil Corp., 264 F.R.D. 242 (N.D.W.V. 2010));
Successful recovery of allocable share of response costs under CERCLA following bifurcated trials on liability and response cost allocation, including an appeal, involving remediation of landfill used by chemical manufacturer and cosmetics formulator (W.R. Grace & Co. – Conn. v. Zotos Int’l, Inc., 2000 Westlaw 1843258 and 1843282 (W.D.N.Y. Nov. 2, 2000), W.R. Grace & Co. – Conn. v. Zotos Int’l, Inc., 559 F.3d 85 (2d Cir. 2009) W.R. Grace & Co. – Conn v. Zotos Int’l, Inc., 2013 Westlaw 5488939 (W.D.N.Y. Sept. 30, 2013));
Successful settlement of neighborhood toxic tort claim involving solvent (VOC) contamination of groundwater and long-term remediation solution, following bifurcation of liability from damages (Raiport v. Gowanda Electronics Corp., 739 N.Y.S.2d 811 (Sup. 2001));
Successful recovery of allocable share of response costs under CERCLA following corporate successor liability trial, equitable allocation trial, extensive motion practice and multiple appeals in matter involving historic manufactured gas plant operations, contamination of surface water sediments and remediation bifurcated between riparian and terrestrial components (State of New York v. Westwood-Squibb Pharmaceutical Co., 737 F. Supp. 1272 (W.D.N.Y. 1990), 767 F. Supp. 456 (W.D.N.Y. 1991), aff’d, 964 F.2d 85 (2d Cir. 1992), 981 F. Supp. 768 (W.D.N.Y. 1997), modif’d, 62 F. Supp. 2d 1035 (W.D.N.Y. 1999), and 138 F. Supp. 2d 372 (W.D.N.Y. 2000));
Summary dismissal from private CERCLA cost recovery action (Town of Wallkill v. Tesa Tape, Inc., 1997 Westlaw 666271 (S.D.N.Y. 10/27/97));
Reversal of dismissal on appeal following adverse bankruptcy ruling and trial court affirmance of private cost recovery and declaratory judgment claim under CERCLA (AL Tech Specialty Steel Corp. v. Allegheny Int’l Credit Corp., 104 F.3d 601 (3d Cir. 1997));
Environmental Transactional Due Diligence
Counsels clients involved in transactions, including purchasers, sellers, lenders and borrowers, on potential liabilities identified in Phase I and Phase II Environmental Site Assessments, regulatory compliance audits, and asbestos, lead paint, vapor intrusion and mold assessments. Frequently assists clients in analyzing CERCLA All Appropriate Inquiries defenses and navigating risk associated with potential successor liabilities. Clients include publicly-held corporations, private and family-owned businesses, lenders, developers, property owners, and commercial landlords and tenants.
Solid and Hazardous Waste
Under federal and state statutory and regulatory programs concerning management of solid and hazardous waste, advises clients on overall compliance, represents clients in state and federal administrative enforcement actions and voluntary remedial programs, assists clients in the preparation and submittal of Beneficial Use Determination petitions to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for the beneficial reuse of solid waste materials, and counsels clients on potential liabilities associated with asbestos, lead-based paint and PCBs.
Underground Storage Tank Regulations
Assists clients on compliance with federal and state underground storage tank regulations, including registration, overfill protection, release detection, inventory monitoring and testing requirements, and advises clients on potential liabilities associated with redevelopment of gasoline stations and other sites with existing and removed underground storage tanks.
New York State Brownfield Cleanup Program
Extensive experience counseling clients on the benefits of participating in the Brownfield Cleanup Program, including liability releases and tax credits, assisting clients in the preparation of applications for participation in the Brownfield Cleanup Program and representing clients in meetings with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to discuss application requirements, citizen participation, brownfield agreements, remedial investigation work plans, remedy selections, completions and liability releases.
Assists clients in preparing potential takings claims under the Fifth Amendment for litigation.