Gail Wurtzler was the former head of the Environmental Group of Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP. She has been named in The Best Lawyers in America® since 2010 and has earned an AV® PreeminentTM Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell. Ms. Wurtzler is admitted in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado and U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Ninth and Tenth Circuits.
During her career at DGS, Ms. Wurtzler has worked for numerous clients engaged in coal and metal mining, oil and gas exploration and production, and water development. Her work has included: defense of royalty litigation brought by the federal Minerals Management Service (now the Office of Natural Resources Revenue), the Colorado State Land Board, and private royalty owners; litigation of surface use disputes; and water rights litigation including applications for water rights, changes of water rights, interbasin transfers of water rights, augmentation plans, and diligence applications. She has also represented clients regarding federal statutory programs affecting resource development including NEPA, FLPMA, the Endangered Species Act, and the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.
Environmental Toxic Tort Cases
Ms. Wurtzler has more than 20 years experience defending personal injury, medical monitoring and property damage toxic tort cases. These cases involve claims brought by individuals or classes alleging common law torts, unjust enrichment, and violations of federal and state environmental statutes. Some also include claims under citizen suit provisions in environmental statutes.
Substances at issue in one or more of these cases include hydraulic fracturing chemicals, chlorinated solvents (PCE, TCE, TCA, and DCE), nitrates, PCB’s, metals and/or petroleum hydrocarbons. These cases generally involve groundwater and/or surface water contamination and air emissions. Recent chlorinated solvent and petroleum hydrocarbon cases all involve potential vapor intrusion from groundwater contamination underneath residences. Other alleged pathways in her cases are ingestion of, inhalation of, and/or dermal exposure to chemicals in dust and soils, public water supplies or private well water, and from consumption of fish.
To date, she has been the lead defense lawyer in more than 20 toxic tort personal injury and medical monitoring cases and more than 25 toxic tort property damage cases in state and federal courts. She has had significant roles in many other such cases, particularly in the areas of damages, toxicology, and risk assessment. Together with other lawyers at DGS, she has tried two of these cases in which the jury returned a verdict of no loss of property value.
An important component of Ms. Wurtzler’s practice in defending (or avoiding) toxic tort cases is advising the client and its consultants regarding their interactions with regulators. Subjects include regulatory compliance, remediation, management of regulated substances, negotiation and implementation of fish tissue studies, public relations plans, proposed and final action levels, and defense of penalty proceedings.
Remediation Claims. Ms. Wurtzler has prosecuted and defended CERCLA cost recovery and contribution claims, RCRA citizen suit claims, and similar claims under state laws. She has been the lead lawyer in both trials and appeals. She has negotiated consent decrees and administrative consent orders with government agencies and settlement agreements among PRPs.
Natural Resource Damages. Ms. Wurtzler has more than 20 years experience defending natural resource damages claims. Her clients include Fortune 100 and 500 companies. She works with economic experts on issues concerning injury determination and quantification of NRD and with remediation and terrestrial and aquatic wildlife experts on restoration measures.
- Editorial Board, Law360 Environmental, 2015
- Member, Board of Visitors, Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2007-2013
- Defense Research Institute: Toxic Torts and Environmental Law Committee
- Co-chair of the Women Environmental Litigators Subcommittee and CLE Committee, American Bar Association - Litigation Section
- American Bar Association, Section of Environment, Energy & Resources: Committees – Environmental Transactions and Brownfields; Environmental Litigation & Toxic Torts; former Section Council member; former Editor-in-Chief of Natural Resources & Environment
- Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation: Environmental Section Chair for 2015 Annual Institute; former Trustee-at-large; former Chair and current member of Publications Committee
Selected Cases with Published Opinions
- Diamond X Ranch, LLC v. Atlantic Richfield Co. (2014 WL 4831969 (D. Nevada))
- La Plata County Board of County Commissioners v. Brown Group Retail (598 F. Supp.2d 1185 (2009), 2010 WL 3190612 and 3430919, 768 F. Supp 2d 1092 (2011), 2011 WL 2669220 (D. Colo.))
- Zeiler Farms, Inc., v. Anadarko E&P Company, LP (2009 WL 890716 (D. Colo.))
- Wason Ranch Corp. v. Hecla Mining Co., 2008 WL 906110 (D. Colo. March 31, 2008)
- Stulb v. Schlage Lock Co., et al., 2005 WL 1073906 (D. Colo. March 11, 2005)
- Atlantic Richfield Co. v. Farm Credit Bank of Wichita, 226 F.3d 1138 (10th Cir. 2000)
- Satsky v. Paramount Communications Inc., 1996 WL 1062376 (D. Colo. March 13, 1996)
- Satsky v. Paramount Communications Inc., 7 F.3d 1464 (10th Cir. 1993)
- Satsky v. Paramount Communications Inc., 778 F. Supp. 505 (D. Colo. 1990)
- Department of Health, State of Colorado v. Hecla Min. Co., 781 P.2d 122 (Colo. App. 1989)
- Thomas v. Great Western Sugar Co., 773 P.2d 582 (Colo. App. 1988)
University of Chicago, J.D.
University of Wisconsin, B.A., with Honors, Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi