PRACTICES

Expert Witness Services

Overview:

With the Supreme Court’s 2005 decision in Bates v. DowAgroScience LLC, the possibility of multi-million dollar damage claims against pesticide users and manufacturers has increased. Unfortunately, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) reaction to industry developments and public concerns can itself be misunderstood or muddled. Companies who find themselves embroiled in legal turmoil will benefit immeasurably from The Acta Group’s (Acta®) skilled team of experts who have worked in specific product areas in government and industry. Along with legal professionals from Acta’s affiliate, Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®), they have the experience and know-how to represent effectively clients’ positions and to demystify legal conundrums their matters may present.

Our Experience:

Acta’s experienced staff has extraordinary skills as expert witnesses in support of various judicial and administrative proceedings. Our qualifications are extensive and span across a range of issues that affect clients in both the pesticide and industrial chemical markets.

Our professionals offer this specialized expertise in relatively straightforward data compensation arbitration hearings under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to more complex, multi-million dollar tort claim proceedings that evolve over a number of years. Especially valued has been the experience of Acta staff with previous work experience at federal regulatory agencies, such as EPA. This government experience allows each professional to speak authoritatively on a number of issues that may be relevant to a specific case.

James Aidala has over 30 years of experience in the field of pesticide legislation, policy, and implementation. His work experience has included senior positions on Capitol Hill and at EPA where he has been responsible for both implementing and legislating our nation’s pesticide and toxic chemical laws.  He is a former Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances (OPPTS) (now the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP)), and held other senior political positions at EPA during the Clinton Administration. Among other responsibilities at EPA, Mr. Aidala was responsible for leading the EPA team that drafted the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA).  Since 2001, Mr. Aidala has worked in a variety of private consulting firms and has been an expert witness in both toxic tort and international trade arbitration proceedings.

Timothy Backstrom worked extensively on pesticide regulation and registration matters during his 25 years with EPA’s Office of General Counsel (OGC). Mr. Backstrom was directly involved in the development of many regulations and policies concerning pesticides, including procedures for pesticide reregistration and for public participation in the special review and reregistration process. He has extensive experience in pesticide hearings, including the suspension and cancellation hearings for 2,4,5-T and silvex, the suspension and cancellation hearings for dinoseb, and various hearings concerning data development. Mr. Backstrom had principal responsibility for the litigation associated with the suspension and cancellation of dinoseb, and he negotiated the settlement that resulted in elimination of mercury compounds from paints and coatings. While in OGC, Mr. Backstrom also had principal responsibility for a variety of air quality matters, including litigation and rulemakings concerning emission standards and delisting petitions for hazardous air pollutants, litigation concerning registration of fuel additives, and periodic review of National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).

Oscar Hernandez, Ph.D., is the former Director of the Risk Assessment Division (RAD) in EPA’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT), where he managed a multi-disciplinary science group that provided expert scientific support in the areas of hazard and risk assessment of chemicals being reviewed pursuant to the regulatory programs OPPT implements. During his 30-year career at EPA, Dr. Hernandez's chemical assessment activities included managing the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Section 8(e) substantial risk reporting program; developing the initial High Production Volume (HPV) Challenge program and the subsequent development of Hazard Characterization documents; management of U.S. representation to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) Screening Information Data Set (SIDS); the Voluntary Children's Chemical Evaluation program (VCCEP); the Acute Exposure Guideline Levels (AEGL) program; assessment support to address national priority chemicals, including formaldehyde, lead, mercury, and perfluorinated chemicals; pioneering efforts in the assessment of nanomaterials; and more recently, the release of risk assessment documents of priority (Work Plan) chemicals.

We believe that the combination of skills and expertise that the Acta team brings to clients who have a need for expert witness services compares favorably to any other consulting firm, and that translates to value for our clients. With a wealth of legal resources from our legal affiliate B&C, Acta offers value in a quantitative form -- as a small and highly specialized firm, we are able to offer our professionals’ legal skills, business judgment, and years of experience at rates below those of our competitors.

What We Do:

Acta professionals offer a full range of expert witness services and, through our extensive network of qualified professionals around the globe, we can meet our clients’ varying needs. These could include, for example, explaining the process and meaning of EPA review procedures, the historical implementation of various EPA guidance policies, and the development of program elements over time placed in their appropriate context. Clients have found this expertise helpful in formulating a response to certain litigation issues, either directly as a witness or more generally to provide the perspective of a former “insider” who can place events and policies in a broader context.

  • Testimony –
    • Serve as expert witnesses in judicial and administrative proceedings such as:
      • Federal and state judicial proceedings
      • FIFRA data compensation arbitrations and other administrative proceedings under FIFRA, TSCA, and related federal and state laws
  • Opinions –
    • Provide expert opinions for judicial and administrative proceedings
  • Trial Preparation –
    • Assist legal counsel in reviewing matters in dispute
    • Prepare counsel for cross examination of witnesses adverse to their client’s interests

Representative Engagements:

  • Our professionals have served as expert witnesses in countless federal, state, and FIFRA data compensation arbitrations.
  • We are regularly retained to assess the feasibility of certain legal positions as a part of pre-litigation preparations. 
  • Our professionals have served as expert witnesses in a wide variety of lawsuits involving the application of agricultural chemicals, representing the interests of the agricultural chemical producers’ community.
 
THE ACTA GROUP, L.L.C.
2200 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W. Suite 100W | Washington, D.C. 20037 | (202) 266-5020 | actagroup.com
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