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Stephen McKae

Phone: 510.834.6600
Fax: 510.808.4675
E-mail: SMckae@wendel.com v-card


Stephen practices with the firm's environmental and employment groups. He has more than 30 years of experience in complex and multiparty litigation and has handled class action matters as both defense and class counsel.
Environmental Experience

Stephen's experience in environmental matters includes:

  • Cost recovery and enforcement litigation respecting industrial plants, agricultural chemical distributors and formulators, bulk storage facilities, and transmission pipeline releases under CERCLA, RCRA and HSAA, including cost recovery against the United States government for wartime chemical plants
  • Toxic tort and stigma damage litigation based on exposures to contaminated sites
  • Contaminated site investigation, cleanup, closure and health risk management
  • Community relations for contaminated sites and community relocation
  • Public agency review of environmental permitting
  • Underground Storage Tank Fund claims and other claims related to chemical handling and manufacturing, petroleum refining and abandoned tank sites.
  • Contract and permit matters related to landfill operation, expansion, long-term closure costs and transfer of ownership
  • County solid waste management planning and waste importation agreements
  • Development of waste recycling programs and household hazardous waste programs
  • Operating agreements, agency approvals and waste stream guarantees in connection with a proposed waste-to-energy project
  • Brownfields redevelopment and public funding
  • Occupational safety regulation and enforcement in the construction, demolition, waste disposal, dry cleaning and manufacturing industries

The contaminated sites where Stephen has served as litigation or environmental counsel, or both, include among others:

  • Brown & Bryant (Arvin Plant), Arvin, California, EPA ID# CAD052384021 (Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway, etc. v. Brown & Bryant, Inc.), representing The Dow Chemical Company
  • Brown & Bryant (Shafter Site), Shafter, California, EPA ID# CAD009531823 (Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway, etc. v. Brown & Bryant, Inc.), representing The Dow Chemical Company
  • Del Amo Site, Torrance, California, EPA ID# CAD029544731 (Cadillac Fairview, California, Inc. v. The Dow Chemical Company, et al., (Pit Site); Shell Oil Company v. United States (Plant Site); Amcena Properties v. Shell Oil Company, et al. (Coca-Cola Bottling Company); and related cases), representing The Dow Chemical Company
  • Del Monte/Oahu Plantation (Kunia Plantation), Hawaii, EPA ID # HID980637631, representing The Dow Chemical Company
  • Industrial Waste Processing, Fresno, California, EPA ID# CAD980736284 and Pinedale Groundwater Site, Fresno, California (Calcot, Ltd. v. Vendo, et al.), representing The Dow Chemical Company
  • La Mirada Products, La Mirada, California (La Mirada Products v. The Dow Chemical Company), representing The Dow Chemical Company
  • Santa Fe Springs Oilfield, Santa Fe Springs, California (Beaumon Trust, et al. v. The Dow Chemical Company, et al.), representing The Dow Chemical Company
  • United Heckathorn Company, Richmond, California, EPA ID # CAD981436363 (Levin Metals Corp. v. Parr-Richmond Terminal Company, et al.), representing The Dow Chemical Company
  • Napa Bulk Terminal (Bay Cities Oil Marketers v. Commercial, Electrical, and Mechanical Maintenance Company, et al.), representing Chevron Products Company
  • Port of Oakland, Berths 23 and 24 (Port of Oakland v. ExxonMobil Oil Corporation), representing the Port of Oakland
  • Kinder Morgan Energy Partners aviation fuel pipeline spill, February 2005, representing the Port of Oakland
  • Hookston Station, Pleasant Hill, California (Block, et al. v. Helix, et al. and Huddleston, et al. v. Union Pacific Railroad Company, et al.), representing Hookston Station property owners
  • Former Kaiser Marquardt aerospace plant, 56 acres at Van Nuys Airport (Kaiser Marquardt, Inc. v. The Marquardt Company), representing Kaiser Marquardt, Inc.
  • Zeneca/Campus Bay (formerly Stauffer Chemical) Site, Richmond, California, EPA ID #: CAD009123456, representing Cherokee Investment Partners III, L.P., and Cherokee Investment Partners III Parallel Fund, L.P.
  • Former Fuller-O’Brien Site, South San Francisco, CA, EPA ID #: CAD005130455, representing Cherokee Investment Partners II, L.P. and others
  • North Beach Manufactured Gas Plant site, Marina District, San Francisco, Envirostor ID # 60001239, representing residential property owners

Employment Experience

Stephen's employment, civil rights and employee benefits law experience includes work with employers, public entities and labor unions in a variety of administrative and litigation matters. He handles matters under ERISA, Title VII, ADEA, Americans With Disabilities Act, Executive Order 11246, OSHA, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and corresponding state legislation, as well as proceedings before the National Labor Relations Board, the California Labor Commissioner, and in contract arbitrations and negotiations. He has extensive collective bargaining experience. From 1976 through 1980, Stephen was the Northern California Home Builders Conference member of the standing Board of Adjustment under the Carpenters 46 Northern California Counties master residential construction agreement.

He has represented numerous construction industry pension, health and apprenticeship trust funds with assets of $500 million in matters arising under ERISA, including plan structure, benefit improvements, withdrawal liability, COBRA and HIPAA implementation, and fiduciary liability.

Significant Appellate Decisions

  • Torres v. Oakland Scavenger Company, 487 U.S. 312, 108 S. Ct. 2405, 101 L.Ed.2d (1988) – Case specified that named plaintiffs in class action appeals must meet the same procedural standards as individual plaintiffs.
  • Music v. Western Conference of Teamsters Pension Trust Fund, 712 F.2d 413 (9th Cir. 1983) – Determined the standard for fiduciary liability in cases involving retroactive pension plan modifications under ERISA and the LMRA, leading to the recovery of benefits exceeding $10 million for a class of retired, disabled Teamsters.
  • Cadillac Fairview v. The Dow Chemical Company, et al., 41 F.3d 562 (9th Cir. 1994) – Determined the Ninth Circuit standard for "arranger for treatment" liability for government-owned contractor-operated (GOCO) war plants under CERCLA.


  • University of California, San Francisco, Hastings College of the Law; J.D. (1975)
  • Stanford University; B.A., with distinction (1969)
  • United States Navy Submarine School, Groton, CT; graduate (1969)

Close Admissions

  • State Bar of California
  • United States District Court; Northern, Eastern and Central Districts of California
  • United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
  • United States Supreme Court
  • United States Court of Federal Claims

Close Publications

Close Affiliations

  • International Foundation of Employee Benefit
  • Defense Research Institute
  • United States District Court
    • Early neutral evaluator
  • State Bar of California
    • Employment Law Section, member
  • American Bar Association
    • Labor and Employment Law Section, member
    • Natural Resources, Energy and Environmental Law Section, member
  • Bar Association of San Francisco
    • Labor  Law Section, member
  • Alameda County Bar Association
    • Member
  • Danville-Sycamore Valley Rotary

Close Speaking & Teaching

  • Lecturer for the Law and Science Institute on criminal enforcement of environmental laws
  • Lecturer for the California Redevelopment Association, National Ground Water Association, American Petroleum Institute and others on brownfields redevelopment and institutional controls
  • “Environmental Law Basics and Best Practices for Construction Lawyers for 2011,” presenter, ExecSense Webinars, December 2011
  • “Department of Toxic Substances Control v. Hearthside Residential,” presenter, ExecSense Webinars, September 2011
  • Panelist on pre-liability apportionment under CERCLA after the United States Supreme Court decision in “Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway Co. v. United States” for the ABA Section of Environment, Energy and Natural Resources in its 39th Annual Conference on Environmental Law, March 18-21, 2010
  • “Lender Liability under CERCLA,” presenter, Wendel Rosen Client Seminar, October 2009
  • "U.S. Supreme Court Decisions Affecting Business and Real Estate Transactions and the Superfund Practice," panelist, Sustainable Property Transactions Conference, RTM October 28, 2009
  • "Contaminated Property in Financial Distress - Who is Left Holding the Bag in a Down Economy?" panelist, Wendel Rosen Client Seminar, May 7, 2009
  • “Environmental Regulations in California: An Overview of Federal and State Law,” panelist, Wendel Rosen Client Seminar, February 7-8, 2006

Close Awards & Recognition

  • AV® Preeminent™ rated by Martindale-Hubbell*
  • Wendel Rosen's Environmental Practice Group selected as one of top three in the San Francisco Bay Area in The Recorder's 6th Annual "The Best" survey, 2012 
  • Awarded "Best Paper" by the ABA Section of Environment, Energy and Natural Resources in its 39th Annual Conference on Environmental Law, March 18-21, 2010
  • Selected for inclusion in Northern California Super Lawyers magazine, 2004-2006

*AV is a registered certification mark of Reed Elsevier Properties Inc., used in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedure's standards and policies.

Close Military Service

  • United States Naval Reserve, engineering officer on active duty, 1969 through 1972