Stephen J. Brake is a partner in the Litigation Department and a member of the firm’s Executive Committee. He practices in a broad range of litigation, including toxic tort, intellectual property, commercial real estate, land use and zoning, and construction litigation.
Environmental, toxic tort and catastrophic loss
Steve has represented clients in a broad trial practice for twenty-five years. He has tried over twenty toxic tort and environmental cases to verdicts. He serves as national counsel for a technical paper company in asbestos-related litigation and in that capacity has successfully tried a series of cases to juries, obtaining defense verdicts in a number of jurisdictions, including California, Michigan, Kansas, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.
Steve has also tried a substantial number of cases involving claims of catastrophic loss, damage or injury. Recently Steve obtained a defense verdict for a Massachusetts based company in a four week trial in the Federal District Court in Boston in a case arising from a hotel fire at a luxury hotel in Rome, Italy. The multi-million dollar claim arose from extensive fire-related damage and multiple deaths. Similarly, he obtained a jury defense verdict for a large printing company on a multi-million dollar claim arising from allegations of widespread hazardous exposure to lead dust.
Steve served as Special Assistant Attorney General representing the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in connection with all claims arising from the alleged “sick building” status of the “Ruggles Center,” the former home of the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles. These matters involved extensive personal injury and property damage claims arising from alleged illnesses at the building in question, along with a thirty million dollar claim against the Commonwealth for breach of its lease agreements. After several years of litigation, the matters were successfully resolved with a multi-million dollar payment to the Commonwealth.
He has argued a number of the leading environmental cases in both the First Circuit Court of Appeals and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, including Trustees of Tufts University v. Commercial Union Ins. Co., which established a multi-year defense cost obligation on the part of insurers as to environmental claims under Massachusetts law.
Steve obtained a multi-million dollar award in favor of a group of industrial companies in a suit against an environmental consultant for breach of that consultant’s obligations to conduct an environmental cleanup.
In his extensive experience, Steve has developed a wide-ranging knowledge of the legal, medical and scientific issues that occur in toxic tort, environmental and fire cases.
Steve has handled extensive construction-related litigation. Recent matters include:
Claims for a Boston-area university and other education institutions involving roof failures arising from construction negligence
Claims arising from substantial cost overruns incurred in connection with rebuilding a large paper manufacturing facility
Claims arising from the failure of cutting-edge power plants to provide required levels of electricity output
Valuation claims for electric power facilities
Representation of a major condominium project in Massachusetts in successfully pursuing claims arising from multi-million dollar construction failures
Steve has represented parties in a substantial number of lengthy construction arbitrations, obtaining several substantial awards or defeating the claims asserted against his clients.
Land use and zoning matters
Steve has represented parties in a variety of disputes relating to the commercial development of land, trying numerous such cases to judgment in Massachusetts Superior and Land Courts, including:
Commercial Litigation Matters
Representing the developer attempting to refurbish a large mall structure near Boston
Representing several major retailers in defeating zoning challenges to various permitted expansions
Representing a developer of retail facilities in adverse possession involving centuries old buildings
Defeating a challenge to the permits for a large residential development in the City of Boston
Stephen represents clients in complex commercial litigation matters in state and federal courts and has obtained a number of substantial awards in such cases.
Stephen is a member of the Litigation and Environmental Sections of the Boston Bar Association and a fellow of the Massachusetts Bar Foundation. He frequently lectures for Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, Inc. He is also active in various civic and charitable activities.
During law school, Stephen was executive editor of the Boston College Law Review.