David K. Floyd, an attorney regarded as a pioneer in the field of environmental law, was involved in pollution cases from their earliest days.
“He represented Bethlehem Steel back in the '60s during the evolution of the Clean Air Act,” said Morgan G. Graham, a partner at the Buffalo firm of Phillips Lytle LLP who Mr. Floyd hired to work with him on Love Canal litigation. “That really kicked things off for environmental law and the firm.
“From his experience with Bethlehem Steel and doing air work, he became known for that,” Graham added. “He was unique because he was there in the beginning.”
Mr. Floyd went on to represent Houdaille Industries and Carborundum Corp. in pollution lawsuits. In the lengthy legal actions stemming from Love Canal throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, he was the principal attorney in Western New York for Hooker Chemical and its successor, Occidental Chemical. It was the largest single piece of litigation in the firm's history.
He died Feb. 1 in the Health Care Facility at Fox Run, Orchard Park. He was 85.
“David had the trust, respect and admiration of his colleagues, adversaries and the judiciary, which made him so effective as a lawyer,” Graham said. “He was always a straight shooter and trustworthy. The lawyers at the DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) and the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) who negotiated with him knew he was a fellow who would find a resolution.”
Born in Buffalo, David Kenneth Floyd was the son of a teacher. He attended school in Orchard Park, Alfred and Schuylerville before completing his junior and senior years of high school in Farmingdale, L.I.
He attended Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., then an all-male school, where he was a member of Alpha Chi Rho fraternity and Air Force ROTC. He played for one year on the football and baseball teams and three seasons on the basketball team.
While he was at Trinity, he kept in touch with his high school sweetheart from Schuylerville, Anne Louise Zoller, who was studying at Union University School of Nursing in Albany to become a registered nurse.
“We wrote,” she said. “I worked in the Catskills for two summers, and he and his brother visited me. And I went once or twice a year to some big weekend at Trinity.”
A week after he received his bachelor’s degree in economics in 1954, they were married.
He then served for three years in the Air Force stateside in management analysis, attaining the rank of first lieutenant.
“While he was in the service, he was debating whether to go for business or for law,” his wife said, “and he decided on law.”
Enrolling in the University of Chicago Law School, he was a managing editor of the Law Review and graduated with honors in 1960 with a Juris Doctor degree. He was a member of the Order of Coif, an honor society for law school graduates.
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