Environmental Law Capstone Course: Brownfields Redevelopment and Litigation – 6403
This 4-credit “capstone” course will provide an in-depth treatment of the legal and practical issues surrounding the redevelopment of, and litigation over underutilized real property that has been subject to environmental contamination (called “brownfield” properties). Each section of the course will include simulated exercises, drafting exercises, and guest speakers in addition to the coverage of basic legal doctrine. Moreover, through reflection papers, a longer research paper, a field trip, the use of case studies, and a mentorship program (where students are assigned an attorney mentor and environmental consultant mentor), this course will immerse students in the actual practice of environmental law in general and the law governing brownfields in particular.
The first section of the course addresses the role of brownfields development in today’s urban and suburban life. This section studies demographics, development patterns, environmental justice, regional land use planning, and regional governance. The second section of the course introduces and applies the law and policy of real estate transactions, real estate development, and land use to the issue of brownfields. This section includes basic real estate and development law, the creation of tax-increment financing districts, insurance coverage for contamination, government funding for redevelopment, eminent domain, the law relating to environmental review (NEPA and MEPA) and basic zoning and land use law. The last section covers the primary laws that govern the regulation of and litigation over contaminated property, namely the Superfund laws (CERCLA and, in Minnesota, MERLA) and the common law torts of trespass, nuisance, negligence, and strict liability. Actual court documents and case studies will be used to analyze initial pleadings, discovery, dispositive motion practice, working with environmental and appraisal experts, and general trial tactics.
There are no prerequisites for this course. All substantive environmental law necessary for the capstone will be taught as part of the course.