Jerry is Chair of the Litigation Group and leads our Environmental Group. His practice focuses on commercial litigation with an emphasis on complex commercial litigation, energy related matters, and environmental litigation. Jerry handles a wide variety of complex litigation disputes involving financial transactions, corporate acquisitions, and contract disputes. His energy practice includes representation of (1) established regional and national utilities in regulatory, environmental, white collar defense and litigation matters; (2) owners and developers of land and ocean based wind farms in regulatory, permitting, construction, contract, and litigation matters; (3) owners and developers of solar energy companies in development projects; and (4) large energy companies in general activities throughout the Northeast region. Jerry also handles sophisticated products liability actions involving medical devices, toxic torts, mass torts, and other products. He tries cases in state and federal courts throughout the country and frequently appears before regulatory bodies and agencies in connection with permitting and development projects. Jerry often provides counsel to public and private companies including private equity groups, venture capital companies, developers, public utilities, energy companies, manufacturers, and financial institutions concerning disputes, acquisitions, sales, and other matters.
Jerry’s environmental practice includes representing parties in private cost recovery actions, Superfund litigation, toxic tort litigation, permitting and approval, and insurance coverage cases. He also defends clients against state and federal enforcement actions under the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and other environmental statutes.
Jerry has authored or co-edited many articles in the areas of commercial litigation and environmental compliance and speaks at regional and national seminars covering commercial litigation and environmental compliance and enforcement issues. Jerry is a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers, and has been recognized by his peers and a number of legal publications as a top litigator in the region.
Areas of Expertise
Jerry’s busy trial practice includes a wide variety of cases, tribunals, and jurisdictions. He helps companies solve problems and prosecute and defend claims in areas involving major real estate development, medical imaging, utility operations, lottery equipment, pharmaceuticals, heavy manufacturing, complex energy-related components, education, railroad and transportation industries, petroleum and gas distribution, consumer products, dental implants, and textiles. His clients include some of the world’s largest manufacturers, utilities, transportation companies, gaming companies, testing laboratories, and many others. Jerry has represented clients in Europe, Canada, and throughout the United States.
One of the distinguishing aspects of Jerry’s trial experience is the breadth of the cases he handles. Below are some examples of recent work he has done on high profile cases.
- Defended a public company in a high profile white collar criminal case
- Represented an energy company on an off-shore wind project
- Appeared regularly before state Supreme Courts on a host of regulatory appeals
- Defended a variety of complex toxic tort claims
- Coordinated several serious internal investigations for public companies
- Defended and prosecuted an array of contract disputes
- Litigated a complex manufacturing dispute regarding components used in wind farms
- Represented energy companies in regulatory proceedings
- Defended public companies in large environmental claims
- Energy Products: Jerry recently represented a multi-national holding company in a significant contract dispute with a Fortune 50 company concerning major components used in commercial wind turbines. The dispute concerned warranty and performance claims for components valued at more than $200,000,000 and involved production and sales in several countries. Jerry continues to handle a number of matters for this client.
- Eminent Domain: Rhode Island condemned land owned by a large developer to relocate the two rivers in the Capital Center District. The developer retained Jerry to obtain just compensation after the state offered less than $2,000,000. After two full trials and appeals, Jerry secured a $13,000,000 condemnation award on behalf of the developer, but no one would pay the judgment. A City responsible for half the award responded by retroactively tripling the developer’s tax assessments, condemning one of the developer’s other parcels, and sending the developer a $7,000,000 tax bill. After more litigation and appeals, the Supreme Court declared the new tax assessments illegal, voided the City’s condemnation, ordered payment of the judgment, and awarded legal fees to the developer. The dispute spanned 16 years and included 3 separate trials and appeals. The condemnation award is one of the largest eminent domain awards resulting from a contested case in Rhode Island.
- Charter International: Jerry represented Charter International Oil Company, at various times owned by Spelling, Viacom, and CBS, for more than 15 years in connection with issues arising out of a 110 acre petroleum distribution facility located along the coast. In the course of that representation, Jerry (1) represented Charter in negotiating the terms of the facility decommissioning and environmental cleanup that spanned more than 10 years and involved numerous state and federal environmental agencies; (2) prosecuted a construction claim against one of the major cleanup contractors; (3) prosecuted contribution actions in federal court against the federal government and private oil companies to recover costs associated with the cleanup; and (4) prosecuted a claim against an insurer that resulted in a settlement after a published decision confirming Charter’s rights to pursue coverage following the long cleanup effort.
- Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: For the past three years, Jerry has represented one of the largest contractors involved in cleaning up the Gulf Oil Spill resulting from the failure of British Petroleum’s oil well in 2009. The matters have included contract claims, construction disputes, and employment matters.
Product Liability and Toxic Torts
Jerry’s product liability and toxic tort experience is deep and covers a wide variety of products. Jerry has litigated wrongful death cases as well as personal injury claims involving allegations of product defects or product malfunctions. He has represented manufacturers and distributors of a wide variety of products including industrial products, consumer products, medical devices, and pharmaceutical products.
- Life Sciences: General Electric retained Jerry to defend against product liability claims arising out of the administration of a so-called gadolinium-based contrast agent, or GBCA, used in MRIs. Plaintiffs contend that when administered to patients suffering from end-stage renal failure, GBCA causes nephrogenic systemic fibrosis, a serious condition involving the thickening and hardening of the skin, stiffness in joints, and severe pain in the affected areas.
- The Catalyst Cases: Cytec retained Jerry to defend it in more than 80 respiratory cases filed against it in the US Virgin Islands, St Croix. The claims concerned catalysts allegedly supplied by Cytec to a large oil refinery on St Croix where the plaintiffs worked. The venue presented both interesting and important issues. After three years of discovery and shortly before trial, the plaintiffs dismissed all claims against Cytec and proceeded against the remaining defendants.
- State of Rhode Island v. Lead Industries Association et al.: The Rhode Island Attorney General filed this landmark case against six former lead pigment manufacturers. The State sought billions in damages to remove lead paint from homes and government buildings throughout Rhode Island. One of the six defendants, American Cyanamid asked Jerry and Hinckley Allen to defend these claims. The case drew national attention and resulted in two trials; the second trial spanning four months was the longest in the history of Rhode Island. That trial resulted in a verdict that imposed liability measured at upwards of several billion dollars against three of the other defendants. On appeal, the Rhode Island Supreme Court rejected the underlying public nuisance and market share liability theories advanced by the Attorney General against American Cyanamid and the other defendants, and dismissed all claims. That decision was widely reported in the national press as well as legal publications.
- Kedy v A.W. Chesterton: General Electric retained Jerry to argue an important appeal involving series of asbestos cases that Canadian plaintiffs sought to litigate in the United States. After the trial court denied General Electric’s motion to dismiss those claims, the company hired Jerry to argue the appeal before the Rhode Island Supreme Court. The Court agreed with General Electric, adopted for the first time the doctrine of forum non conveniens, and dismissed the claims filed by the Canadian plaintiffs.
Jerry is one of the leading environmental attorneys in New England. His broad environmental practice includes helping businesses, utilities, and governments with CERCLA and other pollution claims, water and air issues, permitting facilities, operations or activities, toxic tort claims, reporting issues under EPCRA, federal and state enforcement actions, and other environmental issues arising in litigation, business operations, acquisitions, and real estate transactions.
Jerry has extensive experience litigating environmental disputes. He has tried to conclusion a number of multi-party CERCLA claims and private cost recovery actions in federal and state courts across the Northeast. He represents Fortune 100 companies and private companies in sophisticated toxic tort claims throughout the United States. Jerry has defends businesses, utilities, and governments in a variety of environmental disputes and enforcement actions.
Businesses also frequently ask Jerry to help them resolve environmental issues arising in the context of acquisitions and mergers, real estate transactions, or general operations. Jerry’s pro-active approach in handling environmental issues at an early stage permits clients to complete transactions, move forward with their business plans, and avoid costly litigation.
- Sullivan’s Ledge: AFC Cable selected Jerry to defend this Superfund Contribution Action under section 113 of CERCLA. The Performing PRP Group sought millions in contribution from AFC Cable and the other defendants in an action before Judge Keaton in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. Judge Keaton tried the case for six weeks before a provisional jury requested by the plaintiffs. At the close of the plaintiff’s case, Judge Keaton entered Judgment as a matter of law in favor of AFC and two other defendants. A fourth defendant was found liable by the provisional jury and Judge Keaton for several million dollars. Jerry also successfully defended the appeal before the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit; a case that has become one of the leading decisions on contribution and equitable apportionment under CERCLA.
- Corvello v. Southern Union: More than 100 families in a Rhode Island neighborhood sued Southern Union and claimed that Southern Union was responsible for pollutants by a Coal Gas Manufacturing Plant operated by a local gas company later purchased by Southern Union. The Town imposed a moratorium on new building in the neighborhood and the state environmental and health agencies conducted extensive investigations. Jerry defended Southern Union in the federal action filed by the families and also in a state administrative proceeding brought by the Department of Environmental Management. Jerry helped the company settle the case on the court house steps and Southern Union resolved a claim that exceeded $100,000,000 in exchange for a modest payment.
- The Towns of South Kingstown, Narragansett, and Middletown: Jerry has helped these and other towns deal with a variety of environmental compliance issues concerning stormwater and RIPDES permits, landfill closures, TMDLs, Citizen’s Suits under the CWA, and the closure of Superfund Sites.
Jerry’s energy practice is extensive and varied. He represents energy companies in regulatory proceedings, project development, obtaining permits and approvals, and in litigation matters related to those projects and proceedings. In the 1980s Jerry represented a coal-fired cogeneration facility throughout the regulatory process, and in the litigation generated by that successful but controversial project. Jerry also represented waste to energy companies in the regulatory arena and in litigation. For decades Jerry has worked with and represented some of the regions predominant energy companies and utilities, including National Grid, Southern Union Company, and the former Providence Gas Company, in matters ranging from regulatory proceedings and disputes, regulatory approval for the sale of utilities, disputes concerning Power Purchase Agreements, and matters involving the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and ISO New England. More recently, Deepwater Wind retained Jerry to help it obtain approvals to build what may be the nation’s first offshore wind farm.
- Deepwater Wind: The Block Island Wind Farm (BIWF) is a 30-megawatt demonstration-scale offshore wind farm consisting of 5 offshore wind turbines. BIWF will be located in Rhode Island state waters, about three miles off of the southeastern coast of Block Island. BIWF could become the nation’s first off-shore wind farm. The developer, Deepwater Wind, retained Jerry to help obtain the project approvals. Jerry appeared before the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission on behalf of Deepwater Wind and National Grid on common issues, and then successfully defended the RIPUC’s approval before the Rhode Island Supreme Court. BIWF is moving forward and Jerry and HA&S continue to represent Deepwater Wind on many aspects of the project.
- Newbay Corporation: In the 1990s, Newbay Corporation planned to build and operate a cogeneration facility in the City of East Providence. The facility would have generated 72 megawatts of electricity and 20,000 pounds per hour of steam. Jerry represented Newbay in multiple regulatory proceedings to obtain the required permits and approvals, and successfully challenged government maneuvers to block the project. After moving through the regulatory process, Newbay successfully sold the project.
Jerry has an active regulatory practice and has appeared often before regulatory agencies including the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities, siting boards, administrative adjudication boards, and similar government agencies. Jerry represents electric, gas and water utilities in rate proceedings, regulatory proceedings approving sales, and ancillary proceedings involving matters such as renewable energy requirements. Jerry also represents railroads in regulatory and energy matters. Jerry’s extensive environmental practice often brings him before administrative tribunals, conservation commissions, and other federal, state, and local agencies.
- New England Gas Company: Jerry represented the New England Gas Company before the Rhode Island Division of Public Utilities and Carriers when the company sought to sell all of its Rhode Island assets to National Grid. The Governor, Attorney General, DEM and a substantial citizen’s group all opposed the sale because the company would not agree to assume responsibility for alleged manufactured gas plant waste in a local town. Despite the opposition, Jerry succeeded in winning regulatory approval after a contested hearing and the deal worth in excess of $500,000,000 closed on schedule.
- Hinckley Allen
- Chair, Litigation Law Group
- Chair, Environmental Law Group
- Partner (1990-Present)
- Associate (1983-1989)
Honors & Awards
Best Lawyers in America® (2012-2019)
- Lawyer of the Year (2010, 2012, 2014, 2016-2018)
- Recognized for Bet-the-Company Litigation, Commercial Litigation, Energy Law, Environmental Litigation, and Regulatory Enforcement (SEC, Telecom, Energy) Litigation
- Chambers USA America's Leading Lawyers for the category of Litigation: General Commercial
- Rhode Island Lawyers Weekly, Lawyer of the Year (2010)
Rhode Island Monthly
- Top Lawyers in Rhode Island (Commercial Litigation Category)
- Professional Excellence in Law (2019)
- Super Lawyers, Rhode Island (2007-2018)
American Bar Association
- Section on Litigation; Environmental Litigation Committee
- Toxic Tort and Environmental Law Committee
- American College of Trial Lawyers, Fellow of the College
- Board of Bar Admission for United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island, Chairman
- First Circuit Judicial Conference in Newport, Rhode Island, Co-Chair (2005)
- Offshore Wind: Massachusetts
- Rhode Island Bar Association-Environmental Law Committee
- The Fellows of the American Bar Foundation
- Federal Tax Court, 1994
- Massachusetts, 1991
- Rhode Island, 1983
- United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit, 2003
- United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit, 1986
- United States Court of Federal Claims, 2000
- United States District Court, District of Massachusetts, 1991
- United States District Court, District of Rhode Island, 1984
- United States Supreme Court, 1989
- Lecturer for American Bar Association, 2001 Environmental Litigation Mid-Year Meeting on Toxic Torts
- National lecturer for Federal Publications, Inc., “The Basics of Federal Environmental Law,” March 1993, November 1993, April 1994
- Lecturer for Lorman Education Services, “Environmental Coverage Issues,” July 1998
- Lecturer on “Underground Storage Tank Requirements & Clean-up in Rhode Island,” April 1995
- Lecturer on “Environmental Law and Regulation: Addressing Environmental Concerns in Common Business Transactions” at Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce Business Expo ’94
- Lecturer on Environmental Issues to CPE Associates, Inc., November 1992, November 1993
- “Purchasing and the Law,” New England Gas Association Materials Management Workshop, May 1990
News & Insight
Peter Wexler, General Counsel and Senior Vice President of Schneider Electric speaks candidly about outside counsel. Litigation Chair, Jerry Petros mentioned.
Hinckley Allen Partner Gerald J. Petros discusses the trailblazing legal strategies that Hinckley Allen team implemented for his client, Deepwater Wind. In this live broadcast, Jerry discusses the multi-year process in developing an offshore wind farm, reg…
Over the past 18 months the US offshore wind market has battled its way into existence, putting steel in the water and persuading politicians to put their necks on the line for a still-expensive technology with a virtually nonexistent workforce in the US.N…
Tribe Can’t Block Work on Wind Farm in Preservation SuitMay 16, 2016
Please click to listen to the full audio of this interview from Rhode Island Public Radio.Deepwater Wind has installed the first of five steel foundations for a wind farm that will sit three miles off the coast of Block Island. The project is expected to …
Since it was first lit up in 1875, the Southeast Lighthouse has always had an enviable view of the enchanting, shipwreck-prone waters off the coast of Block Island. But its vista is about to get even more interesting.This summer, at the height of the islan…
Hinckley Allen is proud to announce that the 2019 edition of Chambers USA has recognized several of the firm’s practice areas and attorneys for their outstanding work.Chambers USA rankings are based on extensive in-depth interviews with attorneys and cli…
The Super Lawyers has selected 38 Hinckley Allen attorneys as Super Lawyers and Rising Stars. Each year, no more than five percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by the research team at Super Lawyers to receive this honor.Super Lawyers, a Thomson…
Hinckley Allen is pleased to announce that Best Lawyers® has recognized 51 attorneys in the 2019 edition of The Best Lawyers in America®, including seven “Lawyers of the Year.” Only one lawyer in each specialty in each region is honored as a “La…
Hinckley Allen is proud to announce that the 2018 edition of Chambers USA has recognized several of the firm’s practice areas and attorneys for their outstanding work.Chambers USA rankings are based on extensive in-depth interviews with attorneys and cli…
The Super Lawyers has selected 39 Hinckley Allen attorneys as Super Lawyers and Rising Stars. Each year, no more than five percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by the research team at Super Lawyers to receive this honor.Super Lawyers, a Thomson…
Hinckley, Allen & Snyder LLP is pleased to announce that Best Lawyers has recognized partners Noble F. Allen, Christine K. Bush, William S. Fish, Joel Lewin, Robin L. Main, Thomas S. Marrion, Gerald J. Petros, and David A.NOBLE F.
Noble F.Jomarie T.Robert J.James J.Leon C.John J.William W.Christine K.
The Chambers USA 2017 edition, has named 18 Hinckley Allen attorneys as leaders in their fields.The Hinckley Allen attorneys featured in the Chambers USA 2017 guide include: William W. Bouton III; Christine K. Bush; Stephen J. Carlotti; Christopher H.M. Ca…
Hinckley, Allen & Snyder LLP is pleased to announce that Best Lawyers® has recognized partners William S. Fish Jr, Michael L. Koenig, Mark S. McCue, Gerald J. Petros, Paul A. Silver, Richard Y. Uchida, and David A.William S.
The Hinckley Allen attorneys featured in the Chambers USA 2016 guide include: E. Jerome Batty; William W. Bouton III; Christine K. Bush; Stephen J. Carlotti; Michael J. Connolly; Scott E. Cooper; Margaret D. Farrell; Robert G.
Hinckley Allen Partner Gerald J. Petros Named “Lawyer of the Year” in Bet-the-Company Litigation by Best LawyersAugust 17, 2015
Gerald J. Petros, a partner at Hinckley Allen, was named the Best Lawyers® 2016 Bet-the-Company Litigation “Lawyer of the Year” in Providence, RI.Jerry co-chairs the Litigation Group and leads our Environmental Group. His practice focuses on commercia…
Publication Recognizes 20% of the Firm’s PartnershipThe Chambers USA 2015 edition, released on May 19, has named 21 Hinckley Allen attorneys as leaders in their fields The Hinckley Allen attorneys featured in the Chambers USA 2015 guide include: E. Jerom…
Hinckley Allen Helps Deepwater Wind Develop, Finance, and Construct the Country's First Offshore Wind Farm
Deepwater Wind's project faced regulatory, environmental, construction, real estate, tax and business issues throughout the implementation of an ambitious vision. Hinckley Allen's multidisciplinary team of seasoned lawyers helped them clear each hurdle by …
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