Earl L. Hagström


Earl L. Hagström


What Makes Earl Deliberately Different

One day in Alaska, while drilling 15,000 feet into the earth and thinking about the legal and regulatory process necessary to do this, exploration geologist Earl Hagström saw science and law intersecting and thought, “This looks like a future.” After that, Earl, with his two degrees in geology (one with a concentration in sedimentation and stratigraphy), headed to law school. Today he is rated in the top five percent of Northern California environmental attorneys. Earl’s background as a scientist working on oil rigs, not only in Alaska, but also in California, Oklahoma, Texas and the Gulf Coast, makes him uniquely qualified to grasp the environmental legal problems his clients face and how to successfully handle them. In addition to all of this, Earl has been a long-suffering Boston Red Sox fan, suffering which was thankfully relieved in 2004, 2007 and 2013.

Overview Overview Experience Credentials

Earl is a partner in Sedgwick LLP’s Environmental, Toxic Tort and Natural Resources Practice Groups. Earl represents clients in CWA and RCRA citizen suit actions and in CERCLA cost recovery litigation involving soil and groundwater contamination. He also represents landowners in negotiations with the EPA involving the restoration and reclamation of abandoned uranium mines. He provides strategic advice to clients on the management of system wide environmental risks.

Earl represents manufacturing clients in product stewardship matters before the DTSC. He coordinates ongoing and legacy remediations for clients by managing internal client resources and negotiating remedial requirements and consent agreements with state and federal agencies. He has represented clients in litigation arising out of the disposal and release of flow-back and hydraulic fracturing fluids from oil and gas operations. 

Earl has directed the valuation of environmental liabilities in bankruptcy proceedings and environmental indemnities and insured risks in facility acquisitions and real property transaction. Earl also advises insurance clients on the allocation of risks and damages in matters involving multi-site and multi-party long-tailed claims.

Earl has represented insurance clients in NRDA claims under CERCLA and OPA. He has also successfully tried CERCLA and tort-based contamination cases before juries, courts and represented clients in administrative proceedings. Earl has also been retained as an expert in the application of CERCLA. 

Representative Matters

  • California DTSC v. Members of Thermostat Recycling Corporation (Joint Defense Group Counsel 2015-2016) 
  • California State University v Pacific Gas and Electric Company (Butte County Superior Court 2015) 
  • USEPA v. Babbitt Ranches, LLC (2014-2016) 
  • Myers Investment Company v. Size Control Plating Co. Inc. (USDC CD CA 2012) 
  • Bel Air Mart v Arnold Cleaners, Inc., et. al. (USDC ED CA 2012) 
  • People of the State of California v. PBR Realty, LLC (Los Angeles Superior Court 2011) 
  • Wells Fargo v. Renz, et. al. (US DC ND CA 2011) 
  • SPPI-Somersville v. TRC Companies (USDC ND CA 2006) 
  • Western Gravel v. Whitley, et. al. (Sonoma Superior Court 2006) 
  • Port of Redwood City v. Gibson Environmental, et. al. (USDC ND CA 2001) 
  • GBF Landfill v. Pacific Gas and Electric Company (USDC ND CA 1999) 
  • Port of Oakland v. Pacific Gas and Electric Company (USDC ND CA 1998)
Earl was an Exploration Geologist for Phillips Petroleum’s Frontier Exploration Group (now Conoco-Phillips) (1978-1982) and an Exploration and Operations Supervisor for British Petroleum’s North Alaska Group (1982-1986). Earl's published decisions include Catellus Development v. USA, 828 F. Supp. 764 (N.D. Cal. 1993) and Catellus Development v. USA, 34 F.3d 748 (9th Cir.1994). 

Publications and Presentations


  • Co-author, “Produced Water – Emerging Challenges, Risks and Opportunities,” Co-author, Environmental Claims Journal, Volume 28, Issue 2 (May 2016).
  • “The Legal and Economic Implications of Hydraulic Fracturing Bans,” Chapter 8, Hydraulic Fracturing: Environmental Issues ACS Symposium Series 1216 ACS Symposium Series (January 2016). 
  • “Fracking Update,” Hydraulic Fracturing Digest, Sedgwick (May 2014).
  • “State Legislation vs. Municipal Home Rule Over Fracking,” Law360, New York (March 24, 2014).
  • “Divisibility and Apportionment Under CERCLA in 2013—More Fiction Than Fact,” BNA Toxics Law Reporter (June 6, 2013, republished from Bloomberg BNA Daily Environment Report (May 17, 2013). 
  • “Fact or Fiction: Apportionment and Divisibility Under CERCLA,” Daily Journal April 22, 2013).
  • “Environmental Groups Claim Further Environmental Review Needed to Address Fracking Impacts,” Sedgwick’s Toxic Tort and Environmental Law Update (February 2013).
  • “Hydraulic Fracturing: Identifying and Managing the Risks,” Environmental Claims Journal (May 2012).
  • “Hydraulic Fracturing Litigation Is on the Rise,” Sedgwick’s Hydraulic Fracturing Digest (September 2011).
  • “Hydraulic Fracturing in the Marcellus Shale — Strategies for Legal and Regulatory Compliance,” Navigating Legal Issues around the Marcellus Shale, Aspatore Books, Thompson Reuters Publishing (2011).
  • “Managing the Challenges of Climate Change Regulation for the Built Environment,” Inside the Minds: The Legal Impact of Climate Change Aspatore Books, Thompson Reuters Publishing (2010).
  • “Climate Change, the Next ‘Hot’ Topic in Product Liability Litigation,” Defense Research Institute (December 2008).
  • “Muddy Waters,” Los Angeles Lawyer Magazine article reviewed in Natural Resources & Environment, ABA Section of Environment, Energy and Resources, Spring 2008, Vol. 22, No. 4.
  • “Muddy Waters, The Maximum Contaminant Level, Non-Degradation Dichotomy,” Los Angeles Lawyer Magazine (December 2007).
  • “The Maximum Contaminant Level, Non-Degradation Conflict,” American Bar Association Environment, Energy, and Resources Law, The Year in Review 2006.
  • Editor and Contributing Author, "Perchlorate: A Scientific, Legal and Economic Assessment," Lawyers and Judges Publishing (2006).
  • “E-Discovery Proposed Amendments, Emerging Case Law and Litigation Issues,” Mealey’s MTBE Teleconference (October 11, 2005).
  • “MCLs, PHGs and Damages,” Mealey’s Water Contamination Conference (September 26-27, 2005).
  • “Perchlorate Litigation: Shifting Standards and Strategies,” National Ground Water Association (May 2005).
  • Panelist, “Perchlorate Litigation, Regulation and Legislation: Where Will It Take Us?” Ground Water Association of California (August 2004).
  • “California's Water Wars,” San Francisco Recorder (May 2004).
  • “Perchlorate: the Chemical Du Jour in Environmental Law,” ABA Superfund and Hazardous Waste Quarterly Report (June 2003).
  • “Beware the Polanco Act,” San Francisco Recorder (March 2003).
  • “Environmental Liability for Medical Waste” and “Underground Storage Tank Liability,” Healthcare Liability Deskbook, West Publishing (2000).
  • “Underground Storage Tanks: Managing the Hidden Liability,” Journal of Health Care Risk Management (June 1994).
  • “Coping with Underground Storage Tank Regulations,” Risk Reporter Vol. 5 No. 2 (Spring 1993).
  • “Municipal Liability Under CERCLA: Are Municipalities Paying Their Fair Share?” Air & Waste Management Association’s 86th Annual Meeting (June 1992).


  • “Changes In Environmental Regulation, Policy and Enforcement Under the New Administration: How Will It Impact Your Environmental Liabilities?” Casualty Insights Conference, New York, New York (April 7, 2017).
  • “What Does Regulation Under President Trump Mean for Your Environmental Liability?” Casualty Insights Conference, New York, New York (April 6, 2017).
  • “Produced Water: Valuable Resource or Waste By-Product?” California Oil, Gas and Groundwater 2016 Symposium, Bakersfield, California (November 3, 2016). 
  • “Environmental Aspects of Unconventional Oil & Gas Production & Hydraulic Fracturing,” 251st American Chemical Society National Meeting & Exposition, San Diego, California (March 13-17, 2016).
  • “Beneficial Water Use in California and The Reach of SB4,” California Water Law 23rd Annual Conference, San Francisco, California (October 8-9, 2015).
  • “Municipal Bans on Hydraulic Fracturing: Reasonable Regulations or Takings without Compensation,” California Ground Resources Association - Hydraulic Fracturing, Part Two: Practitioner and Legal Perspectives (March 11, 2015).
  • “Trespassing on Your Neighbor’s Property: Directional Drilling and Flowback Fluid Disposal,” Water Law Institute Hydraulic Fracturing Conference, Chair (January 23, 2015).
  • “The Fight Over Water Quantity, Quality and Rights,” 248th American Chemical Society National Meeting, San Francisco, CA (August 10-14, 2014).
  • “Evolving Science and Environmental Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing,” Panelist, 248th American Chemical Society National Meeting, San Francisco, CA (August 2014).
  • “Regulation of Underground Contamination in Oil and Gas Production at Sites,” webinar panel, ELI Professional Practice Seminar Series (June 24, 2014).
  • “The State of Hydraulic Fracturing,” Association of Environmental & Engineering Geologists (July 15, 2014).
  • “The State of Hydraulic Fracturing,” Environmental and Water Resources Institute, Oakland, CA (May 13, 2014).
  • “You Paid the Clean-Up Costs and You Think You’re Done—Think Again: A New Look at Recovering Post-Remediation Damages, What Defendants and Insurers Need to Know,” Emerging and Environmental Claims Managers Association, Captiva Island, FL, (April 30-May 2, 2014).
  • “Hydraulic Fracturing: An Overview of Legal, Technical and Economic Issues,” [Confidential Client Presentation] (April 23, 2014).
  • “The Use of Hydraulic Fracturing in the Monterey Shale Litigation, Regulation and Economics,” Society for Marketing Professionals Annual Client Educational Conference, San Francisco, California (March 20, 2014).  
  • “Hydraulic Fracturing and the Battle Over Beneficial Water Use in California,” 2014 California Unified Program Annual Training Conference, San Mateo County, CA (February 3-6, 2014).
  • “Hydraulic Fracking and the Battle Over Beneficial Water Use in California, The Next Phase of Fracking Litigation in California,” 44th American Chemical Society’s Western Regional Meeting, Santa Clara, CA (October 3, 2013).
  • “Hydraulic Fracturing - Understanding and Managing the Risks and Resources,” Contra Costa County Hazardous Materials Commission, Concord, CA (June 27, 2013).
  • “Hydraulic Fracturing ‘Fracking’ It’s Not Just About Contamination,” Bay Area Environmental Safety Group, Santa Clara, CA (June 19, 2013).
  • “Legal Analysis and Trends in Banking, Business and Real Estate Transactions,” Environmental Bankers Association Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (June 10, 2013).
  • “Hydraulic Fracturing: Understanding and Managing the Risk,” Industrial Association of Contra Costa County, May Forum, Pittsburg, CA (May 8, 2013).
  • “Hydraulic Fracturing: Understanding and Managing the Risk,” Alliance of Hazardous Materials Professionals Northern California Chapter meeting, San Francisco, CA (April 16, 2013).
  • “Hydraulic Fracturing: Understanding and Managing the Risk,” Contra Costa Council Environmental/Manufacturing Task Force, Walnut Creek, CA (April 5, 2013).
  • “Fracking Injury Cases: Fracking Injuries and Illness,” Speaker, National Business Institute Webinar (January 7, 2013).
  • “Hydraulic Fracturing: Understanding and Managing the Risk,” Speaker, Environmental Bankers Association Webinar (November 15, 2012).
  • “Shale Gas and Litigation: Who is Suing Whom and For What Reason?,” Speaker, American Ground Water Trust & Association of Environmental & Engineering Geologists, Carolinas Section, Raleigh, NC (August, 9, 2012).
  • “Hydraulic Fracturing: Understanding and Managing the Risk,” Speaker, Groundwater Resources Association of California Symposium, Long Beach, CA (July 24, 2012).
  • “Defending Natural Gas Development and Hydraulic Fracking Litigation, Legal and Technical Strategies,” Environmental and Emerging Claim Manager Association, Captiva Island, FL (May 2-4, 2012).
  • “Hydraulic Fracking: Understanding and Managing the Risk,” [Confidential Client Presentation] (April 11-12 and May 5, 2011).
  • “How Bankruptcies Will Affect Environmental Lawyers in 2011,” Speaker, ExecSense Webinar (January 2011).
  • “What Environmental Lawyers Need to Know About Hydraulic Fracturing,” Speaker, ExecSense Webinar (September 2010).
  • Moderator, The Environmental Law Section, Moderator, San Francisco Bar Association’s Ethics & Environmental Law 2009 Continuing Legal Education Seminar, San Francisco, CA (January 30, 2009).
  • Co-chair, National Groundwater and Environmental Law Session, Co-chair, 2008 Groundwater Summit, Memphis, TN (April 2008).
  • “The Maximum Contaminant Level Non-Degradation Dichotomy,” Speaker, National Groundwater and Environmental Law Annual Conference, Dublin, OH (July 2007).
  • “Recovering Damages in Groundwater Litigation,” Speaker, Western Regional Water Law Conference, San Francisco, CA (July 2006).
  • “Lost Use Damages – Who Gets to Recover Them,” Speaker, National Groundwater Association Water Law Symposium, Irvine, CA (May 2006).
  • “Assessing and Defending Against Toxic Tort Risks,” Panelist, Northern California Chapter: Society for Risk Analysis Toxic Tort Symposium, San Francisco, CA (May 2006).
  • “Recovering Lost Use Damages Under Common Law Theories: Are You Paying Twice,” Speaker, NW Contaminated Sediment Series, Seattle, WA (April 2006).
  • Co-chair, “MCLs, PHGs and Damages” and “E-Discovery Proposed Amendments, Emerging Case Law and Litigation Issues,” Mealey’s MTBE Teleconference (October 2005).
  • Panelist, “MTBE Liability Theories,” Mealey’s Water Contamination Conference, Marina Del Rey, CA (September 2005).
  • Panelist, “Perchlorate Litigation: Shifting Standards and Strategies,” National Ground Water Association MTBE and Perchlorate Conference, San Francisco, CA (May 2005).
  • Panelist, “Perchlorate Regulatory Roundtable,” National Ground Water Association MTBE and Perchlorate Conference, San Francisco, CA (May 2005).
  • Panelist, “Perchlorate in California’s Groundwater: Recent Legislation, Regulations and Legal Issues,” Groundwater Resources Association of California 11th Annual Symposium, Los Angeles, CA (August 2004).
  • “California’s Hazardous Waste Laws: What’s New and What's on the Horizon,” Speaker, Annual California Environmental Law Update, San Francisco, CA (July 2004).
  • “What To Do Right When Things Go Wrong,” Speaker, Ecology & Environment Annual Environmental Compliance and Counseling Symposium, New York, NY (October 2003).
  • “A Defense Perspective, Perchlorate Groundwater Litigation,” Speaker, Northern California Chapter of Risk Assessors, San Francisco, CA (November 2003).
  • “UST Liability,” Speaker, Southern California Association of Healthcare Risk Managers and the California Society of Healthcare Risk Managers, Los Angeles and San Francisco, CA (Fall 1994).
  • “Trading Emission Reduction Credits,” Session Chair, Air & Waste Management Association’s 86th Annual Meeting, Denver, CO (June 1993).


  • California
  • 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
  • U.S. District Court (C.D. Cal.)
  • U.S. District Court (E.D. Cal.)
  • U.S. District Court (N.D. Cal.)
  • U.S. District Court (E.D. Mich.)


  • J.D. (1990) University of San Francisco School of Law
  • M.S. (1978) University of Rhode Island, magna cum laude
  • B.A. (1976) Boston University


  • Sedgwick's Mentor of the Year (2009)
  • AV Preeminent® Peer Review Rating by LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell
  • Bay Area’s Top Lawyers, Bay Area Lawyer magazine
  • Top five percent of Northern California environmental attorneys (selected by his peers)

Memberships and Affiliations

  • Western States Petroleum Association
  • Bar Association of San Francisco, Environmental and Water Law Section — Executive Board (1995-2009) 
  • Northern California Professional Environmental Marketing Association — vice president (2010-2011)
  • San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, Environmental Education Committee (1993-1998)
  • California Manufacturers Association, Environmental Quality Steering Committee (1993-1999) 
  • Sedgwick Hydraulic Fracturing Task Force — chair 
  • Sedgwick’s Hydraulic Fracturing Digest — editor
  • Environmental Claims Journal, Advisory Board (2012-present)
  • College of Marin
    • Adjunct professor of Environmental Policy and Decision Making (2009-2012 and 2014)
    • Planning and Resource Allocation Committee (2014)
  • University of San Francisco, Environmental Law Student and Alumni Society, Advisory Board 
  • National Ground Water Association, Environmental and Water Law National Speakers Panel
  • City and County of San Francisco’s Homeless Shelter and Assistance Program — arbitrator