Ralph H. Johnson


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Ralph Johnson

T: +1 202 626 2943
F: +1 202 626 3737

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For over 30 years, Mr. Johnson has focused on radiation litigation, including cases arising from alleged exposure to nuclear generating plant emissions, naturally-occurring radioactive material associated with oil and gas production, uranium mining and milling, depleted uranium, and nuclear weapons.

Representative Experience

Recently, Mr. Johnson has successfully protected corporations against claims asserting that:

  • FERC approval of a natural gas transmission line extension into a major metropolitan area could cause over 30,000 lung cancer deaths among consumers using gas ranges;

  • wind-blown dust from a depleted uranium manufacturing facility caused various autoimmune diseases;

  • tritium leaks from a nuclear power generating plant caused wide-spread diminution of property value;

  • naturally-occurring radioactive material from oil production equipment caused personal injury and property damage;

  • workers’ cancers and other diseases were caused by their occupational exposures at nuclear power plants;

  • childhood cancers were caused by exposure to nuclear power plant emissions. 

Before coming to King & Spalding, Mr. Johnson was an equity partner at Blank Rome (2006-2011) and a partner and member of the management committee at Schmeltzer, Aptaker & Shepard (1988-2006).  Before entering private practice, Mr. Johnson served as an Assistant Director in the Civil Division of the U.S. Justice Department, where he supervised the government’s radiation and toxic tort litigation teams.  Mr. Johnson also served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Utah, and as a Senior Trial Attorney in the Justice Department.  He received a special commendation for outstanding service and five special achievement awards from the U.S. Attorney General for his leadership and trial advocacy in radiation litigation.

Shortly after leaving the Justice Department for private practice, Mr. Johnson was requested to return as Special Attorney to the Attorney General to defend the United States in the Nevada Test Site workers litigation.  This litigation, which involved billions of dollars in cancer claims against the federal government, was successfully resolved on every issue, including negligence and causation.

Mr. Johnson has been selected as one of the top attorneys in Washington, D.C. by two publications (Washingtonian and Super Lawyers magazines), and he has an AV-Preeminent Martindale-Hubbell peer review rating.  He has successfully litigated cases in Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Oklahoma, New York, Utah, Virginia, and Washington.  Two national governments have requested his counsel on radiation litigation issues.

Mr. Johnson is a plenary member of the Health Physics Society, which is comprised of over 5,000 radiation protection professionals.  In February 2014, the Society presented to Mr. Johnson the G. William Morgan Lectureship Award, which recognizes international experts in subjects of interest to the Society’s membership.

In 2011, Mr. Johnson served as a Visiting Professor of Law in Hungary and was selected as a commencement speaker at his alma mater, Weber State University.

Recent Publications

  • “Science and the Reasonable Development of Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Resources in Pennsylvania and New York,” 32 Energy L.J. 101 (2011) (co-author).

  •  “Environmental and Legal Issues Surrounding Development of the Marcellus Shale,” in Aspatore Special Report:  Navigating Legal Issues around the Marcellus Shale.  (Thomson Reuters, 2011) (co-author).

  • “Environmental and Legal Issues Surrounding Development of the Marcellus Shale,” (West Publishing, 2011) (co-author).

  • “Expert Testimony in Litigation Involving NORM (naturally-occurring radioactive material) and TENORM (technically-enhanced, naturally-occurring radioactive material),” Health Physics Society Professional Development School (book chapter) (2009).     

  • “Causal Relationship between Background Radium Burdens and Osteonecrosis Questioned,” Ninth International Conference on Health Effects of Incorporated Radionuclides, German National Research Center for Environment and Health (Neuherberg, Germany, 2004).

J.D., University of Utah
B.A., Weber State University

District of Columbia