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Lawsuits & Litigation

Lex Machina Launches Federal Environmental Litigation Module

— July 16, 2019

+More than $22 billion in damages have been awarded in environmental cases over the last decade.
+BP Deepwater Horizon cases account for a significant amount of total litigation.

Last week, Lex Machina, a LexisNexis company, announced the launch of its Environmental Litigation module, the 13th expansion of its award-winning Legal Analytics® platform. The module provides detailed data and analytics on over 14,700 environmental cases pending in federal district court since 2009, including thousands of multi-district litigation cases involving the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. In total, more than $22 billion in damages have been awarded in environmental litigation cases over the last decade.

The Environmental Litigation module covers cases involving a dispute over regulation of the environment under any federal statute covering pollution, the use of natural resources, protection of forests, rivers, coastal wetlands, plants and animals, and other ways that humans interact with nature. The cases involve governments, non-profit organizations, companies, and individuals suing to protect the environment or for pollution remediation and restitution.

“Environmental litigation often generates significant damages awards, and few case types affect corporations and the general population as much as environmental cases,” said Chuan Qin, environmental legal data expert at Lex Machina. “Cases involving the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill and Volkswagen’s violation of the Clean Air Act have generated significant damages and remediation obligations related to impacts on the environment. And recent federal environmental policy changes are having a profound influence on how attorneys should approach litigation strategy, making legal analytics even more critical for success.”

To create the new module, Lex Machina interviewed experienced environmental attorneys for insights into the intricacies of environmental litigation and incorporated their feedback directly into the platform. As a result, Lex Machina has added six environmental-specific case tags, 30 specific findings, two new remedies and three new categories of damages, all of which enable legal professionals to find the most relevant cases that are similar to their own. In addition, the platform uncovers insights and delivers actionable intelligence on opposing counsel, law firms, parties, judges, venues and other data that plays a critical role in determining successful case strategy.

Case tag screen from module; image courtesy of Lex Machina.
Case tag screen from module; image courtesy of Lex Machina.

The unique environmental litigation data available only through Lex Machina includes:

  • Case Tags – Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, CERCLA (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act), NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) and RCRA (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act)
  • Findings – Clean Air Act Violation, Clean Water Act Violation, Endangered Species Act Violation, CERCLA Liability, CERCLA Third Party/Landowner Defense, NEPA Violation, RCRA Violation, SDWA Violation, Preemption of State Law, Statute of Limitations Defense, Standing, Diligent Prosecution Defense, Noncompliant Notice Defense, and Other Environmental Violation
  • Remedies – Compliance/Remediation Plan, Administrative Remand, and Security Bond/Performance Guarantee
  • Damages – CERCLA Cost Recovery/Contribution, Natural Resource Damages/Assessment Costs, Civil Money Penalties, Environmental Project/Mitigation Fund, and Punitive Damages

In addition to capturing all the environmental cases filed under Nature of Suit (NOS) code 893 in PACER, Lex Machina used machine learning and natural language processing algorithms to find and tag environmental-related cases that were filed under other NOS codes. As a result, Lex Machina has created the largest, most accurate and complete dataset of environmental-related cases in the legal industry.

The Impact of Deepwater Horizon on Environmental Litigation Analytics

Of the over 14,700 environmental cases in Lex Machina, nearly half of these cases are filed in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which impacts nearly every metric in environmental analytics. These cases include direct environmental and commercial damages as well as health-related issues of remediation workers and other affected individuals. To date, environmental damages alone total more than $13 billion. Additional analytics and insights will be available on July 16 in Lex Machina’s first Legal Analytics for Environmental Litigation Report.

About Lex Machina

Lex Machina’s award-winning Legal Analytics® platform fundamentally changes how companies and law firms compete in the business and practice of law. The company provides strategic insights on judges, lawyers, law firms, parties, and other critical information across 12 federal practice areas and the Delaware Court of Chancery. This allows law firms and companies to predict the behaviors and outcomes that different legal strategies will produce, enabling them to win cases and close business.

Legal Analytics was named “Best Legal Analytics” by readers of The Recorder in 2014, 2015 and 2016, and received the “Best New Product of the Year” award in 2015 from the American Association of Law Libraries. The company was named a “Legal A.I. Leader” by The National Law Journal in 2018 and was a finalist in the 2019 LegalWeek Product Innovation awards.

Based in Silicon Valley, Lex Machina is part of LexisNexis, a leading global provider of legal, regulatory and business information and analytics. For more information, please visit

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