Thomas Lee is a member of the firm's Commercial Litigation and Environmental Client Service Groups and focuses his practice in the areas of environmental compliance and commercial litigation.
In his environmental work, Mr. Lee has provided compliance counseling and counseled clients in enforcement actions involving the Clean Air Act, California Air District rules, California Air Resource Board regulations, California’s Proposition 65, California’s Green Chemistry Initiative, and CERCLA. He has represented clients in negotiations with regulators to address alleged violations, and negotiate settlements when violations have occurred. Mr. Lee has also provided internal compliance counseling to ensure clients’ continued compliance especially in the face of changing regulations. Mr. Lee has also performed environmental due diligence on several real estate transactions as well as mergers and acquisitions. Mr. Lee recently represented a food ingredient manufacturer opposing a neighboring property’s request for a Conditional Use Permit for a use that would have jeopardized the client’s ability to continue operating. The Permit application was denied, and Mr. Lee has advised the same client on efforts to re-zone the neighboring property.
Mr. Lee also has extensive experience counseling retail and manufacturing clients on their compliance with California’s Proposition 65, and defending enforcement actions brought against them. Mr. Lee regularly advises clients on enforcement trends, changes in regulations, and changes in safe harbor levels, all of which are essential to ensure compliance and avoid enforcement actions. As part of those efforts Mr. Lee has conducted compliance audits and provided compliance training to update clients’ testing protocols and warning labels. In addition, Mr. Lee has defended numerous retailers and manufacturers in private enforcement actions alleging violations of Proposition 65. From the time that a client receives a 60-day notice of violation Mr. Lee counsels them through the process of evaluating the risk through testing, determining whether a product recall, reformulation or warning label is necessary, and negotiating either a dismissal or reasonable settlement with the enforcement group. Mr. Lee recently negotiated the full dismissal of a Proposition 65 enforcement claim within two months of receiving the 60-day notice of violation.
Mr. Lee's litigation experience includes representing servicers of commercial mortgages in foreclosure, receivership, work-out, and other lender-liability matters. He also has experience with claims of unfair competition and false advertising, and has defended clients in cases involving alleged violations of the Truth in Lending Act and Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, as well as other statutory and common law claims stemming from alleged predatory lending, improper credit reporting, and wrongful foreclosure. Recently, Mr. Lee defended a client in a large scale asbestos liability litigation that was favorably resolved. He has extensive Alternative Dispute Resolution experience, and has successfully defended one of the nation’s largest banks at trial. Mr. Lee also represented businesses bringing indemnity claims resulting in several million dollars worth of recovery.
In law school, Mr. Lee was the Note and Comment Editor for the Northwestern Journal of Law and Social Policy. His comment entitled, "The Water Excise Tax: Preserving a Necessary Resource," was published in 2009. Prior to attending law school, Mr. Lee interned for the Honorable Richard Berman of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.