Barry Groveman is a Partner in the Firm's Los Angeles office, Chair of the Firm’s Public and Environmental Law Group and a member of the Firm’s Management Committee. Over the past three decades, he has handled several landmark cases in the field of environmental law on behalf of public entities, multi-national corporations, small businesses and individual clients. He is experienced in the practice of civil and criminal law.
Mr. Groveman began his legal career in 1979 when he joined the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, serving as a criminal trial deputy. He was later appointed to head the Environmental Protection Division, where he served as Environmental Counsel to City Commissions and Departments, including the Department of Public works, the Los Angeles City Council and the Mayor of Los Angeles. He handled matters related to air, water, hazardous waste, endangered species, noise pollution, historic preservation and transportation. He established and chaired the “Los Angeles Toxic Waste Strike Force,” which was one of the first, successful efforts in the nation established to investigate and prosecute serious environmental crimes.
In 1984 he joined the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office where he served as Special Assistant District Attorney and head of the Environmental Crimes/OSHA Division. He continued to investigate and prosecute environmental crimes and workplace related deaths and led an expanded, county-wide Toxic Waste Strike Force.
In his private practice, Mr. Groveman has represented numerous businesses and individuals charged with crimes pursuant to California’s Health and Safety Code, Oil Spill Prevention Act and Occupational Health and Safety Laws. In 1994-1996, he represented Southwire, Inc., a multi-national corporation charged with a federal environmental crime in South Carolina District Court. The crime involved the illegal shipment of contaminated material from the U.S. to the country of Bangladesh. As part of a successful plea agreement negotiated with the United States Department of Justice, Mr. Groveman traveled to Bangladesh with representatives of the State Department and USEPA to help negotiate an agreement to retrieve the contaminated material and return it to the United States. This was a unique case involving an international victim of a federal environmental crime and involved negotiations and resolution of conflicting laws among different countries.
Mr. Groveman has served as environmental counsel to the Los Angeles Unified School District for over 25 years. He has assisted the District on matters involving environmentally-impacted school sites, the purchase and construction of new school sites, and general environmental counseling. In 1999 Mr. Groveman was appointed to head the “Safety Team” that investigated and made recommendations on corrective actions to be taken concerning the Belmont Learning Center in downtown Los Angeles.
Mr. Groveman also represented water agencies and public utilities in matters relating to the cleanup of contaminated groundwater concerning several superfund sites throughout the San Gabriel Valley. He was one of the lead attorneys to negotiate a landmark $200 million settlement that requires eight companies to clean up the San Gabriel Valley basin over a 15-year period.
In 2002 Mr. Groveman was appointed by a member of the California State Senate to serve as Chair of the “Inland Empire Perchlorate Task Force” which is responsible for coordinating the investigation and response to the serious perchlorate water contamination crisis impacting approximately 20 drinking water wells and 500,000 people in the Inland Empire. He serves as lead counsel to the West Valley Water District in their efforts to recover costs for the loss of over 50% of their drinking water wells due to perchlorate contamination. He participated in the drafting of California Water Code Section 13304(a), which provides authority for local water boards to issue water replacement orders against parties responsible for polluting groundwater.
Mr. Groveman served as special counsel to the City of South Pasadena on CEQA issues related to the expansion of a local school campus, as well as advocacy relating to environmental impacts associated with the extension of the Gold Line running through the City. He also served as lead counsel to the City of Santa Monica in several matters involving the restoration of drinking water wells and recovery of costs associated with MtBE contamination. Similarly, he acted as lead counsel for the City of Morro Bay in a matter relating to MtBE contamination threatening the City’s drinking water supply.
Mr. Groveman has handled complex civil litigation involving asbestos victims and the defense of toxic tort matters including one of the largest filed in San Gabriel Valley, which involved several thousand plaintiffs and numerous appeals.
Mr. Groveman’s litigation experience covers a wide-range of matters in state and federal courts, administrative agencies and legislative bodies. He has tried approximately 50 criminal jury trials.
Mr. Groveman has drafted portions of local ordinances and state statutes, including portions of California Health and Safety Code section 25189.5 —elevated the range of penalties for illegal disposal of hazardous materials from misdemeanors to felonies; Water Code section 13304(a) (formerly SB 1004)--gave authority to Regional Water Quality Control Boards to issue water replacement orders to parties responsible for polluting drinking water; Education Code: sections 17213, 17213.1, 17213.2—toughened building and safety requirements for schools to protect students and employees; and the Calabasas Second Hand Smoke Control Ordinance. In addition, in 1986, Mr. Groveman was the principal co-author of Proposition 65, the “Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 and later campaigned for its successful passage.
Top 25 People in Conejo Valley, 2005, Acorn Newspapers
Selected to Author Article on the Past 25 Years of Environmental Law, for the 25th Anniversary Edition of Los Angeles Lawyer Magazine, March, 2002
In the past he was the recipient of: Commendation from the Santa Monica City Council for “Extraordinary Service to the Citizens of Santa Monica to ensure restoration of Santa Monica’s precious water resources”, Presented April 16, 1998 by the Mayor and Members of the Santa Monica City Council.
Commendation for “Dedication to the Environmental Health and Safety of the Citizens of California” presented by California Secretary of State March Fong Eu, June 3, 1987.
Recipient of the “International Monitor Award” presented by a consortium of environmental groups based in Washington, D.C. for achievement in the enforcement of environmental laws.