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Don Stack and Lee DeHihns III on opposite sides of the Ogeechee River

"You've got miles of healthy river, you've got the discharge pipe and then literally 50 yards downstream of the discharge pipe, you start seeing dead fish. You don't need to have a bachelor's degree in biology or a law degree to connect those dots."

That's Donald D.J. Stack, of Stack & Associates in Atlanta, on the Ogeechee river kill of May 2011 and May 2012. The latter left thousands of fingerlings dead. The former was the largest fish kill in Georgia's history: an estimated 38,000 fish.

Stack represents Ogeechee Riverkeeper, an environmental nonprofit he helped form a dozen years ago , which alleges that pollutants discharged into the river from a King America Finishing Inc. textile plant played a large role in these fish kills.

Although a life scientist of the United States Environmental Protection Agency wrote in a memo, "It may be impossible to ever know for certain exactly what happened," the Georgia Environmental Protection Division ordered King America Finishing to pay a minimum of $1 million in environmentally beneficial projects for the Ogeechee River watershed.

Ironically, the order was challenged not by King America Finishing but by the Ogeechee Riverkeeper, because: 1) the order would allow King America to continue discharging chemicals into the river; 2) the fine could have been as high as $91 million, according to the public interest legal group GreenLaw; and 3) the general public was excluded from having its say. In July 2012, Ogeechee Riverkeeper succeeded in having the order invalidated.

Meanwhile, Lee A. DeHihns III, of Alston & Bird in Atlanta, who represents King America Finishing, calls the allegations in the lawsuits unfounded.

"First of all, King America has never been proven, nor has King America admitted, that it caused the fish kill that occurred in the Ogeechee River in May of 2011," says DeHihns. "All of the U.S. [Environmental Protection Agency], Georgia Environment Protection Division, the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division have all said the fish kill was caused by a bacteria called columnaris."

Indeed, in a June 2011 EPA memo examining the potential stressors contributing to the fish kill, Life Scientist Sharon R. Thoms wrote, "According to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the fish ultimately were killed by disease, namely columnaris." But Thoms added:

The chemical concentrations measured in the samples EPA collected on May 22 and 23 were not high enough to kill fish by themselves. Exposure to a mixture of chemicals in combination with unseasonably warm temperatures and low flows may have been sufficient to weaken the fish. These multiple factors may have weakened the fish enough to make them susceptible to disease.

"The company has at all times passed all of [those] environmental testing requirements the state imposed on us," DeHihns adds.

Litigation continues as the Ogeechee Riverkeeper has filed a federal Clean Water Act lawsuit against King America Finishing.

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The Best of 2013: Super Lawyers Top Lists

As 2013 comes to a close, Super Lawyers celebrates another year of recognizing excellence in practice with the release of our Top Lists.

What are Top Lists? Published in each state, the attorneys included on a Top List are have not only been selected to their state's Super Lawyers list-they have also scored the highest point totals during our patented selection process, which is comprised of peer nominations, independent research and peer evaluations.

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(The Super Lawyers selection process; click to view full-size.)

Attorneys on a Top List are truly the best a state has to offer, and this year is no exception. Among this year's Top List attorneys are:

  • Carter G. Phillips (Top 10, Washington, D.C.), whose 76 arguments before the United States Supreme Court are the most of any attorney currently in private practice.
  • Ted Wells (Top 10, New York Metro), dubbed the "go-to guy" for defense in high-profile white-collar criminal cases and complex civil litigation.
  • Charla G. Aldous (Top 50 Women, Texas and Top 10, Texas), the personal injury attorney whose verdicts and settlements from 2000-2005 garnered more than $675 million.

"Super Lawyers is proud to provide visibility to outstanding attorneys," said Julie Gleason, Director of Research for Super Lawyers. "The Top Lists take that step to the next level by highlighting those attorneys who demonstrate a truly exceptional level of accomplishment."

The size and specifics of each Top List (Top 10, Top 50 Women, etc.) vary depending on the list's respective state or region, and the number of attorneys selected to the state's Super Lawyers list for the year.

If you've been selected to your state's Top List, there are some easy ways to promote this accomplishment: Download our Super Lawyers Promotional Kit for templates to use on your website, blog or social media channels.

To view the Top Lists by state or region, please visit SuperLawyers.com/TopLists.

David J. Beck Representing the University of Texas in Farrah Fawcett Case

Attorney David J. Beck of Beck Redden in Houston, a member of the Super Lawyers National Advisory Board, is representing the University of Texas at Austin in the dispute with actor Ryan O'Neal over an Andy Warhol portrait of Farrah Fawcett. The Charlie's Angels star left her collection of art to the university before her death of cancer in 2009, O'Neal, an old flame, has had possession of it since soon after her death and claims that the portrait is his.

The case was recently covered by the Today Show and CNN.com.

In addition to his prestigious position on the National Advisory Board, Beck was featured in a profile in the 2008 edition of Texas Super Lawyers magazine. 

2013 Super Lawyers Advisory Board Retreat: Recap

(Note: This content is posted on behalf of Heather Walker, Super Lawyers Sr. Director.)

At Super Lawyers, our vision is to provide unparalleled visibility for the attorneys and firms on our list. Just as the business of law is ever-changing, the best marketing solutions for lawyers also evolve. Super Lawyers hosts a variety of focus groups, regional events, sponsorships, trade shows, quarterly webinars and retreats to better understand today's attorney.

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Super Lawyers recently completed our 2013 Advisory Board Retreat, held November 13-15 in Scottsdale, Arizona. Attendees included our National Advisory Board (well-known attorneys) and members of our Marketing Board (marketing directors). The group participated in broad sessions and small breakouts designed to generate ideas that will grow our businesses together.

While the weather and the location were truly exceptional, the best part was the valuable insights we received on how to:

  • Expand our print distribution nationally and regionally
  • Make our lists even more relevant to attorneys and consumers
  • Deliver online marketing solutions that drive business development for top law firms

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A special thanks to our attendees. The group's engagement, honesty and strategy will be truly impactful to Super Lawyers' long-term success!

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