Ross A. Lewin represents clients in a wide mix of complex commercial and environmental litigation. The common element of these lawsuits is that they are high-stakes matters requiring a combination of strong analytical skills, sound judgment and experience to craft a litigation plan and carry out the selected strategy.
For more than three decades, Ross has helped clients deal with the challenges of litigation, at the trial level and also in the appellate courts where he has extensive experience. Ross has also assisted clients with a host of regulatory issues and agency disputes, calling upon his prior experience in the Governor’s Office and as a Deputy Attorney General.
Before joining Drinker Biddle’s Princeton office, Ross served as Deputy Chief Counsel to both Gov. Thomas Kean and Gov. Jim Florio of New Jersey. Ross was also a Deputy Attorney General and an assistant section chief in the Environmental Protection section of the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, where he was in charge of hazardous and solid waste matters. In that capacity, he defended the constitutionality of key provisions of the Spill Compensation and Control Act in appeals before the New Jersey Supreme Court and the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He was also responsible for numerous litigations and proceedings where private parties sought to challenge governmental cleanup actions at toxic waste sites.
After graduating from Yale Law School, Ross clerked for New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Alan B. Handler from 1982-83.
Ross handles a wide variety of complex civil lawsuits, representing clients in such diverse matters as post-closing business disputes, health and hospital law, alcoholic beverage regulation and public bidding law. Ross’s recent cases include a 30-day trial where he successfully defended a client charged with receiving fraudulent transfers, a dispute over Medicaid reimbursement owed for substance abuse treatment provided to hundreds of hospital patients, a public bidding challenge to a solid waste service contract valued at more than $100 million and an appeal before the New Jersey Supreme Court on the confidentiality of self-critical analysis performed by hospitals following a serious patient incident. His clients include Republic Services, Kinder Morgan, the New Jersey Hospital Association and Princeton Healthcare System.
Ross’s environmental litigation practice includes cost recovery actions and natural resource damages claims, and environmental issues arising out of business transactions. He also has considerable experience in solid waste issues and has helped several industry leaders navigate the complex maze of regulations governing solid waste businesses.
Representative matters include:
- Represented Kinder Morgan Liquids Terminals in twin lawsuits arising out of contamination at a terminal in Paulsboro, NJ. One lawsuit was brought by the NJDEP and sought remediation and recovery of $81 million in natural resource damages. The second lawsuit was a private party action that concerned allocation of responsibility for past remediation costs associated with environmental conditions at the terminal. After the lawsuits were settled on most favorable terms, Ross continues to advise the client on its agreement with the State to implement one aspect of the site remedy.
- Represented the country’s second largest solid waste company in a bid dispute over a public contract covering the disposal of all solid waste generated in Mercer County (N.J.) for a five year period. The contract value was approximately $100 million. Ross’s client was the low bidder, but its bid was rejected on technical grounds. After extensive litigation, the Appellate Division held that the rejection was erroneous and directed a contract award to Ross’s client.
- Served as co-first chair for a three-month jury trial in a groundwater contamination case brought by 145 plaintiffs. The trial included dozens of fact witnesses. Ross handled all five expert witnesses, who were on the stand for weeks. His client was allocated a modest share of a very low financial award.
- Served as first chair for an eight-day bench trial involving contamination at an industrial property. The trial included five fact witness and one expert witness. The trial concluded with a defense verdict, with Ross’s client found not liable for any remediation or cleanup costs.
- Negotiated a sale to a utilities authority of a privately-owned solid waste landfill that had ceased operation decades earlier. Under the agreement, the client transferred ownership of the landfill along with escrow monies dedicated to landfill closure in exchange for the utilities authority assuming all future environmental responsibilities. Also negotiated and gained a guarantee by the County itself to ensure that the utilities authority met its agreed-upon responsibilities. The transaction was subject to approval by State regulators, which was obtained and had the effect of releasing Ross’s client from all future environmental responsibilities upon transfer of the landfill.
- Served as coordinating counsel for an industry-wide effort to negotiate with the New Jersey Attorney General’s office over mandatory disclosures required of institutional investors (such as mutual fund companies and private equity concerns) that hold equity stakes in solid waste companies. Under a regulatory program designed to keep organized crime and other corrupt organizations out of the solid waste industry, solid waste companies were being required to arrange for extensive disclosures by these institutional investors and the parties whose capital they are deploying, disclosures that discouraged the entry of legitimate capital into the solid waste industry. The initiative was successful, resulting in legislative reform that freed companies from burdensome filings.
For the past 30 years, Ross has regularly appeared before the appellate courts in New Jersey. Ross’ appellate practice has spanned a wide range of issues and has resulted in leading New Jersey precedents in such diverse areas as environmental law, health care, insurance, alcoholic beverage law, public bidding law and evidentiary privileges.
As a Deputy Attorney General, Ross was involved in some of the highest profile appeals in the State of New Jersey including the Mt. Laurel III affordable housing litigation, an appellate challenge to New Jersey’s time limitations on eligibility for welfare, and an appellate challenge concerning the language of a statewide ballot question.
In private practice, Ross has continued to handle an active and wide-ranging appellate calendar. For example, Ross has served as appellate counsel to the New Jersey Hospital Association for the past 12 years, and has regularly appeared as amicus curiae before the Appellate Division and New Jersey Supreme Court.
Representative appeals include:
- C.A. v. Bentolila, 219 N.J. 449 (2014) (confidentiality of self-critical analyses performed under the Patient Safety Act).
- Freeman v. Corzine, 629 F. 3d 146 (3d Cir. 2010) (Commerce Clause challenge to State winery regulations).
- Presbyterian Home at Pennington, Inc. v. Borough of Pennington, 409 N.J. Super. 166 (App. Div. 2009) certif. den. 201 N.J. 143 (2010) (interpretation of statute providing property tax exemptions for health care facilities for the elderly).
- Waste Management of New Jersey, Inc. v. Union County Utilities Authority, 399 N.J. Super. 508 (App. Div. 2008) (federal preemption of state regulation of railroads).
- Castro v. NYT Television, 370 N.J. Super. 282 (App. Div. 2004) (private rights of action).
- Borough of Princeton v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of the County of Mercer, 169 N.J. 135 (2001) (public bidding).
- R&R Marketing, LLC v. Brown Forman Corporation, 158 N.J. 170 (1999) (alcoholic beverage law).
- New Jersey Turnpike Authority v. PPG Industries, Inc., 197 F.3d 96 (3rd Cir. 1999) (environmental law).
President’s Fellow in American Studies, Trinity College
Awards Methodology (www.drinkerbiddle.com/content/awards)
The 'brilliant' Ross Lewin excels at handling environmental litigation and advising clients on the complex regulations governing commercial transactions. He maintains a specialty in solid waste issues. Market sources praise his 'strong intellect' and courtroom skills.
– CHAMBERS USA (2019)
Ross Lewin is highlighted for his expertise in environment litigation and appellate matters. He is also well versed across environmental regulatory and compliance issues. Interviewees comment: ‘He is an excellent and very well-respected attorney.’
– CHAMBERS USA (2018)
Ross Lewin comes recommended for his litigation strengths and is a good choice of counsel for natural resource damage claims and cost recovery cases. He is particularly noted for his strong track record in cases at appellate level.
– CHAMBERS USA (2017)
- New Jersey
- Yale Law School, J.D., 1982
- Trinity College, B.A., 1977, with honors, Phi Beta Kappa
- U.S. Supreme Court
- U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit
- Legal Services of New Jersey, Board of Directors
- Yale Law School Association of New Jersey (Past President)