Bar & Court Admissions

  • Pennsylvania
  • New Jersey
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
  • U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania
  • U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey
  • Southern District of New York, pro hac vice
  • District of Connecticut, pro hac vice
  • Delaware Superior Court , pro hac vice
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island, pro hac vice

Education

Boston University School of Law, J.D., magna cum laude, 1982

  • Editor, Law Review member (1981-1982)
  • Member, Law Review member (1980-1982)

University of Pennsylvania Wharton School, B.A., cum laude, 1979

Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law

  • Adjunct Professor of Toxic Tort Litigation (2009-present)
Profile
Professional Highlights
Pressroom
Publications

Neil Witkes is a partner with Manko, Gold, Katcher & Fox LLP. He has a wide range of civil and administrative environmental and commercial litigation experience, including class actions, toxic tort claims, insurance coverage suits, defense of agency enforcement actions, citizen suits, challenges to agency action, contract claims, and cost recovery actions. He has represented industrial and commercial entities, as well as real estate developers and closely-held companies, in a variety of environmental and general-commercial litigation matters.

Neil has served as lead counsel in the defense of numerous toxic tort claims arising from alleged exposures to hazardous substances emitted into the ambient air from manufacturing activities and from the release of hazardous substances into drinking water supplies. Reported or published decisions include the following:

  • Sheridan v. NGK Metals Corp., 609 F.3d 239 (3d Cir. 2010) affirming summary judgment in medical monitoring actions against representatives of two classes - residents for ambient air exposures and employees for occupational exposures.
  • Pohl v. NGK Metals Corp., 2007 Pa. Super. 306, 936 A.2d 43 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2007) (granting summary judgment against plaintiffs in medical monitoring claim upon showing that scientific evidence showed exposure to beryllium emissions did not create a significantly increased risk of contracting a serious latent disease);
  • Vitalo v. Cabot Corp., 399 F.3d 536 (3d Cir. 2005) (granting summary judgment because undisputed facts established that plaintiff failed as a matter of law to exercise reasonable diligence to discover his chronic lung condition, and claim was barred by the statute of limitations);
  • Sheridan v. Cabot Corp., No. 02-1212, 2003 WL 22999256 (E.D. Pa. 2003) (granting summary judgment because plaintiff diagnosed with lung disease failed to present evidence of impairment associated with that illness), aff'd, No. 03-1984, 113 F. App'x 444, 2004 WL 2360990 (3d Cir. 2004); and
  • Wack v. Farmland Indus., Inc., 1999 Pa. Super. 327, 744 A.2d 265 (Pa. Super.Ct. 1999) (granting summary judgment after plaintiff's toxicologist was precluded from testifying about link between ingestion of benzene and decedent's cancer).

Neil has also served as lead counsel in the prosecution of multi-million dollar claims under environmental insurance policies to recover costs incurred to remediate environmental contamination. Reported or published decisions include the following:

  • UTI Corp. v. Fireman's Fund Ins. Co., 896 F. Supp. 362 (D.N.J. 1995) (holding that insurance company was estopped by its conduct from relying on "sudden and accidental" exception to exclusion to deny coverage for ongoing leak from underground storage tanks); and
  • Frazer Exton Dev., L.P. v. Kemper Envtl., Ltd., 2004 WL 1752580 (S.D.N.Y. 2004) (first reported decision holding that environmental "cost cap" policy applied to cost overruns for remedy change), aff'd, 153 F. App'x 31 (2d Cir. 2005) and 2007 WL 756494 (S.D.N.Y. 2007) (entering partial judgment for $5.6 million as ancillary relief to prior declaratory judgment).

In addition, Neil has served as lead counsel in the defense of numerous environmental class actions, including the following:

  • Neil defended a former specialty metals manufacturer against several class actions filed in state and federal courts seeking medical monitoring from exposure to airborne emissions from manufacturing activities into the ambient air. See Sheridan v. NGK Metals Corp., 609 F.3d 239 (3d Cir. 2010) (summary judgment in residential and occupational exposure class actions);Pohl v. NGK Metals Corp., 2003 WL 24207633 (Ct. Com. Pl. Phila. County July 9, 2003) (denying class certification on grounds that individual issues predominate over any issues common to the class), aff'd, 863 A.2d 1239 (Pa. Super. 2004) (Table), appeal denied, 582 Pa. 718, 872 A.2d 1200 (2005) (Table); Anthony v. Small Tube Mfg. Corp., 535 F. Supp. 2d 506 (E.D. Pa. 2007) (class action complaint properly removed to federal court under Class Action Fairness Act, denying petition to remand action to state court).
  • Neil defended a public utility against a class action filed in state court seeking testing and medical monitoring as the result of the "threatened release" of mercury during removal of pressure regulators.
  • Neil defended an operator of a landfill against a class action filed in state court seeking damages for nuisance and diminution of property value as a result of landfill operations.

Neil has also served as lead counsel in numerous administrative appeals before the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board. Reported or published opinions include the following:

  • Sayreville Seaport Associates v. Commonw. of PA Dep't of Envtl. Prot., No. 2010-127-L (Pa. Envtl. Hearing Bd. Jan. 4, 2011) (holding letter is appealable final agency action);
  • Florence Township v. Commonw. of PA Dep't of Envtl. Prot. and Waste Mgmt. of Pa., Inc., No. 95-107-MG (Pa. Envtl. Hearing Bd. July 22, 1997) (approving issuance of solid waste permit for landfill expansion); and
  • Township of Florence v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Dep't of Envtl. Prot. and Waste Mgmt. of Pa., Inc., No. 96-045-MG (Pa. Envtl. Hearing. Bd. Aug. 26, 1997) (dismissing appeal of air quality plan approval for landfill expansion, finding no evidence of violation of new source review requirements).

Neil has also served as lead counsel in a variety of other environmental and general-commercial litigation matters. Reported or published opinions include the following:

  • Perkasie Borough Auth. v. Hilltown Township Water & Sewer Auth., 819 A.2d 597 (Pa. Commw.Ct. 2003) (dismissing mandamus action seeking preliminary injunction to enjoin construction of municipal wastewater treatment plant).
  • Waste Mgmt. of Pa., Inc. v. City of York, 910 F. Supp. 1035 (M.D. Pa. 1995) (limiting government’s authority to provide contribution protection to settling defendants under CERCLA).
  • Commonwealth Land Title Ins. Co. v. Doe, 395Pa. Super. 595, 577 A.2d 1358 (1990) (title company entitled to priority over competing title company disputing claims against commingled funds, having acted to preserve rights and fund).

Honors & Awards

Press Releases

Seminars & Speaking Engagements

"Indemnity and Insurance: Getting the Most Out of Your Contract Indemnity Provisions and Filling Gaps in Potential Exposures," presented at the DELVACCA's CLE Institute in Philadelphia, PA, February 9, 2012

"Auditor Reporting: Obligations and Ethics at 2011 Philadelphia Chapter Regional Meeting of the Auditing Roundtable," presented at the Philadelphia Chapter Regional Meeting of the Auditing Roundtable in Bala Cynwyd, PA, November 16, 2011