- Volume 31, Issue #8
- Massachusetts High Court Allows Attorney General's Investigation Of Exxon Mobil
BOSTON - A panel of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts on April 13 affirmed a lower court judge's ruling denying Exxon Mobil Corp.'s request to quash the state's attorney general's civil investigative demand (CID) for documents related to the company's knowledge about fossil fuels and climate change, finding that she has personal jurisdiction over the case because the company has rights to control more than 300 retail franchisees in the state (Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Attorney General, No. SJC-12376, Mass. Sup.).
- Municipalities Tell 9th Circuit Energy Companies Cannot Appeal Remand Ruling
SAN FRANCISCO - Two California counties and the city of Imperial Beach told the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 30 that a number of energy companies accused of withholding information about the relationship between fossil fuels and climate change cannot appeal a federal judge's order remanding their suits, explaining that the decision does not involve a controlling question of law and will not lead to the termination of the litigation (San Mateo v. Chevron Corp., et al., No. 18-80049, 9th Cir.).
- 2 Colorado Municipalities, City Sue Exxon, Others Over Climate Change
BOULDER, Colo.- Two municipalities in Colorado and the city of Boulder on April 17 sued Exxon Mobil Corp., Suncor Energy (USA) Inc. and two of its subsidiaries in Colorado state court, contending that the companies failed to disclose to consumers their knowledge that burning fossil fuels contributes to global warming and climate change (Board of County Commissioners of Boulder County, et al. v. Suncor Energy [USA] Inc., et al., No. n/a, Colo. Dist., Boulder Co.).
- Tax-Sale Purchaser Still Liable For Cleanup Costs, 9th Circuit Says
PASADENA, Calif. - A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled April 27 that a company that purchased a contaminated site through a tax sale cannot shield itself from third-party liability under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) because it had a contractual relationship with the company that formerly owned the site (California Department of Toxic Substances Control v. Westside Delivery LLC, No. 16-56558, 9th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 10763).
- Mobile Home Park Owners Cannot Seek Future Remediation Costs, Judge Rules
SAN DIEGO - The owners of three mobile home parks cannot seek to recover future remediation costs to clean up contamination at their properties caused by the migration of hazardous substances from an adjoining property, a federal judge in California ruled April 12, finding that California law bars the recovery of the damages (Greenfield MHP Associates LP, et al. v. Ametek Inc., et al., No. 15-cv-01525-GPC-AGS, S.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 62407).
- Judge Finds Defendants Are Corporate Successors To Mining Companies
DENVER - A federal judge in Colorado on April 18 granted the federal government's early motion for summary judgment, finding that two defendant companies in a cost-recovery action brought under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) are corporate successors to mining companies that conducted operations at the Commodore Waste Rock Pile Superfund site (United States v. Pioneer Natural Resources Co., et al., No. 17-cv-0168-WJM-NYW, D. Colo., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 65256).
- Judge: Evidence Shows Defendant Is Mere Continuation Of Oil Storage Company
CHICAGO - A federal judge in Illinois on April 26 denied a motion for summary judgment filed by defendant Lenz Oil Peoria Inc. in which it argued that it is not the corporate successor to Lenz Oil Service Co., finding that the evidence shows that two brothers owned Lenz Oil Services at the time it began storing chemicals that contaminated the ground and soil at a site in Chicago (LCCS Group v. Lenz Oil Peoria Inc., et al., No. 16 C 5827, N.D. Ill., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69900).
- Government To Pay $51M To Boeing For Cleaning Up Washington Superfund Site
SEATTLE - The federal government agreed to pay $51 million to Boeing Co. to reimburse the company for the more than $220 million it has spent remediating contamination at a Superfund site in Washington, according to documents filed April 18 in a Washington federal court (Boeing Co. v. United States, No. 18-cv-567, W.D. Wash.).
- 4th Circuit Upholds Shipping Companies' Convictions Over Illegal Discharges
RICHMOND, Va. - A Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on May 7 affirmed the convictions of two shipping companies accused of being vicariously liable for the two head crew members' obstruction of justice, failure to accurately maintain a ship's Oil Record Book and making false statements to the U.S. Coast Guard because the employees were acting on behalf of the companies and because the companies were aware that the Oil Record Book was not being maintained accurately (United States of America v. Oceanic Illsabe Ltd., No. 17-4061, United States of America v. Oceanfleet Shipping Ltd., No. 17-4062, 4th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 11877).
- 5th Circuit Denies CITGO's Petition For En Banc Review Of $81M Penalty
NEW ORLEANS - A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on April 20 denied CITGO Petroleum Corp.'s request for an en banc review of a Feb. 14 ruling in which it found that the company's objections to the imposition of an $81 million civil penalty under the Clean Water Act (CWA) for a 2006 oil spill lacked merit (United States of America v. CITGO Petroleum Corp., No. 16-30515, 5th Cir.).
- Dismissal Of Man's Clean Water Act Suit Upheld By 4th Circuit
RICHMOND, Va. - A federal judge in Maryland did not err when dismissing a man's lawsuit accusing a funeral home of allegedly violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) by not obtaining the required permit, a Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled May 7, finding that the plaintiff's only sufficient allegation was based on a past violation that cannot form the basis of a CWA citizen suit because the defendant obtained a permit before the suit was filed (Alan J. Schneider v. Donaldson Funeral Home P.A., et al., No. 17-1183, 4th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 11884).
- Split 4th Circuit: Groups Have Valid Claim For Water Tainted By Ruptured Pipeline
RICHMOND, Va. - A divided panel of the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 12 vacated and remanded a ruling by a district court, concluding that conservation groups have a valid claim against a company whose pipeline leaked 369,000 gallons of gasoline into local groundwater and other water sources (Upstate Forever, et al. v. Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP, et al., No. 17-1640, 4th Cir.).
- Groups' 3rd Suit Over Discharges Not Subject To Claim Preclusion, Judge Says
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A federal judge in West Virginia on April 17 denied Fola Coal Co. LLC's motion to dismiss a third lawsuit brought by environmental groups over discharges from two areas of its mine, finding that the allegations are not subject to the doctrines of collateral estoppel or res judicata (Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, et al. v. Fola Coal Company LLC, No. 17-3013, S.D. W.Va., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 64188).
- Company: Groundwater Ruling Should Not Be Reconsidered; Groups Lack Standing
TRENTON, N.J. - NL Industries Inc. on May 7 filed a supplemental brief in New Jersey federal court arguing that the court should deny environmental groups' motion for reconsideration of its prior ruling that they failed to produce sufficient evidence to show that NL and other companies violated the Clean Water Act (CWA) when they discharged pollutants in levels that exceeded federal permits and contaminated local groundwater (Raritan Baykeeper, et al. v. NL Industries Ind., et al., No. 09-4117, D. N.J.).
- Group's Suit Against Waste Transfer Station Remanded By Federal Judge
BROOKLYN, N.Y.- A community group's lawsuit against a solid waste transfer station was remanded by a federal judge in New York on April 27 after the judge found that the group's allegations are not subject to federal jurisdiction because they do not implicate the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) (Cleanup North Brooklyn, et al. v. Brooklyn Transfer LLC, et al., No. 17-cv-05621, E.D. N.Y., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 71256).
- Judge: Third Party Had Proper Permits, Not Liable For Groundwater Contamination
PITTSBURGH - A federal judge in Pennsylvania on April 13 dismissed charges against a third-party plaintiff in a lawsuit brought by an environmental group that contends that glass-polishing activities contributed to local groundwater contamination. The glass manufacturer sued the third party, contending that it shared liability, but the judge said the third party produced evidence that it possessed the proper permits to conduct its operations (PennEnvironment, et al. v. PPG Industries Inc., et al. v. AS America Inc., et al., No. 12-342, W.D. Pa.).
- Judge Dismisses UCL, RCRA Claims Related To Alleged Waste Disposal
SAN DIEGO - After finding that a property owner failed to allege specific facts as to which entities allegedly disposed of solid waste from a project site onto his property, a California federal judge on May 4 dismissed claims for violation of Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA), California's unfair competition law (UCL) and other claims with leave to amend (Todd Ingalls v. AMG Demolition & Environmental Services, et al., No. 17-cv-2013, S.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 75997).
- Company To Pay Penalty, Complete Environmental Projects Over Emissions
PITTSBURGH - MarkWest Liberty Midstream & Resources LLC and Ohio Gathering Co. LLC (collectively MarkWest) on April 23 agreed to pay a $691,000 civil penalty and complete three environmental projects to resolve allegations from the federal government, state of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for excessive emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from two of its facilities, according to a complaint and consent decree filed in Pennsylvania federal court (United States, et al. v. MarkWest Liberty Midstream & Resources LLC, et al., No. 18-cv-520, W.D. Pa.).
- Pipeline Company To Pay $1.9M For Violating Consent Decree
DETROIT - A Canadian pipeline company on May 2 agreed to pay $1.9 million for violating the terms of a $177 million agreement entered in 2016 that required the company to allow the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to inspect one of its pipelines to ensure that it complies with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration's standards (United States v. Enbridge Energy L.P., et al., No. 16-cv-914, W.D. Mich.).
- Residents Sue Remediation Company For Falsifying Soil Samples From Superfund Site
SAN FRANCISCO - One hundred forty-nine residents who live near a Superfund site in San Francisco sued an environmental remediation company in California state court May 1, claiming that the company falsified soil samples during its alleged cleanup of the property and that its failure to fully complete the work it was paid $1.1 billion to do has led to higher rates of breast and cervical cancer and asthma (Bayview Hunters Point Residents, et al. v. Tetra Tech Inc., et al., No. CGC-18-566188, Calif. Super., San Francisco Co.).
- Storm Water Qualifies As A Pollutant, 11th Circuit Panel Says In Affirming
ATLANTA - No coverage is owed to an insured seeking coverage for an underlying suit alleging property damages as a result of storm water runoff because the policy's pollution exclusion clearly bars coverage for storm water, which qualifies as a pollutant under the exclusion, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said April 27 (Centro Development Corp. v. Central Mutual Insurance Co., No. 17-13489, 11th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 10909).
- Excess Insurer Owes More Than $55M For Environmental Contamination Claims
NEW YORK - A New York federal judge on April 18 determined that an excess insurer owes its insured more than $55 million for environmental contamination costs incurred by the insured after an offset of approximately $2.6 million is applied based on the insured's global settlement with its other insurers (Olin Corp. v. Lamorak Insurance Co., et al., No. 84-1968, S.D. N.Y., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 65446).
- Insurer Must Prove It Was Prejudiced By Insured's Late Notice Of Saltwater Spill
WICHITA, Kan. - A Kansas federal judge on April 9 granted an insured's motion for summary judgment in a pollution liability suit arising out of a saltwater spill after determining that the insurer is required to prove that it was prejudiced by the insured's late notice of the spill (PetroSantander (USA) Inc. v. HDI Global Insurance Co. et al., No. 16-1320, D. Kan., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59696).