About Chris Nidel
I am currently an attorney with the firm Nidel Law, PLLC. My practice is focused on environmental and toxic tort litigation on behalf of people and businesses injured or damaged by environmental contaminants or exposures.
I was born in Nuremberg, Germany and grew up in a military family living in various places throughout the world. After graduating high school in Seoul, Korea, I went to the University of Virginia to study chemical engineering. I went on to get a Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering at M.I.T. After graduate school, I went to work for a major pharmaceutical company doing drug process development. After a few years, I became disillusioned with the approach that the pharmaceutical industry, including the company I was working for, took toward putting profits over saving lives. At the same time, I realized that several co-workers at the plant as well as many of the plant’s neighbors, were getting sick with cancer and other occupationally related diseases. To me, it became clear that at least some of this illness was caused by exposures to workplace toxins and to those contaminants leaking into the local water supply from beneath the facility. At a minimum, it was clear that the company had no interest in objective investigation of health concerns and would rather that people like myself would be quiet, or as one of the head toxicologists from the company said, “would simply disappear.” I was paid to analyze data, and that interest in understanding and analyzing data and the conclusions that I ultimately drew created a serious tension between my own personal ethics and my company (and its management) that wanted to hear none of it.
The combined realization that his company seemed more concerned about profits than creating cost-effective lifesaving medicines and that they seemed to care less about the illness and death that they were responsible for in their own right, forced me to leave. I went directly to law school at the University of Virginia. After graduating, I relocated to Dallas, Texas so I could work on major environmental and toxic tort litigation with the late Fred Baron at his firm Baron and Budd. At Baron and Budd I worked on cases involving cancer clusters, unsafe landfills, and air and groundwater contamination including the nationwide MTBE litigation for contamination of drinking water supplies due to gasoline containing MTBE. I left Texas, and moved back to Washington, DC and worked for a small firm, focusing on North Carolina Attorney General’s litigation against the Tennessee Valley Authority, for the public nuisance created by air pollutants from TVA’s coal fired power plants in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Alabama.
In 2006, I started my own law firm to focus on representing those injured or damaged by environmental or occupational exposures and working with non-profit organizations working to clean our air, soil, and water, and preserve our planet for the health and well-being of future generations that follow us in this sacred place.
Outside of my passion for environmental health, I have several other interests that keep me going. Music has been an integral part of my life. I love playing soccer and play several times a week, or at least as my schedule permits. Over the last few years, my experiences in healthcare and the pharmaceutical industry as well as in the practice of environmental law has intensified my interest in politics. While the system is far from perfect, our only choice is to work for change within it.