- Volume 31, Issue #5
- 1st Circuit: EPA's Approval Of Stormwater Discharge Limits Does Not Require Notice
BOSTON - A First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Jan. 24 affirmed the dismissal of two lawsuits brought by environmental groups against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, holding that the agency's approval of total maximum discharge limits (TMDLs) of stormwater for bodies of water in Rhode Island and Massachusetts did not trigger a duty to provide notice to potential dischargers (Conservation Law Foundation v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Nos. 17-1166, 17-1354, 1st Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 1734).
- 9th Circuit Upholds Ruling Finding County Violated Clean Water Act
HONOLULU - A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Feb. 1 upheld a ruling awarding summary judgment to five environmental groups, holding that a federal judge did not err when finding that the county of Maui violated the Clean Water Act (CWA) when discharging pollutants from its wells into the Pacific Ocean (Hawaii Wildlife Fund, et al. v. County of Maui, No. 15-1744, 9th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 2582).
- Salvage Yard's Counterclaim Against Group For Abuse Of Process Dismissed
BOSTON - A federal judge in Massachusetts dismissed without prejudice an auto salvage yard's counterclaim stating that an environmental group's Clean Water Act (CWA) lawsuit is an abuse of process, finding that any attorney fees awarded to the group could not be considered an ulterior motive for filing the action (Clean Water Action v. Searles Auto Recycling Corp., No. 16-12067-NMG, D. Mass., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7436).
- Judge Adopts Recommendation To Dismiss Third-Party Claims Over Illegal Dumping
BUFFALO, N.Y. - A federal judge in New York on Jan. 18 adopted a magistrate judge's recommendation to dismiss a third-party lawsuit filed by a company accused of violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) by illegally discharging fill materials into navigable waterways of the United States, finding that the landowner cannot seek contribution under state law because the government is not asserting claims for property damage (United States of America v. David A. Whitehall, et al., No. 14-CV-188, W.D. N.Y., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8224).
- Lake Michigan Surfer Group Sues U.S. Steel Over Allegedly Illegal Discharges
HAMMOND, Ind. - A nonprofit group comprising people who surf in Lake Michigan sued United States Steel Corp. in Indiana federal court on Jan. 17, claiming that the company is violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) by discharging wastewater and storm water that contain contaminants in excess of those allowed by National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits (Surfrider Foundation v. United States Steel Corp., No. 18-cv-00020, N.D. Ind.).
- Chicago Sues U.S. Steel For Discharging Toxic Chemicals Into Lake Michigan
HAMMOND, Ind. - The city of Chicago on Jan. 24 sued U.S. Steel Corp. in an Indiana federal court, contending that it is liable for "multiple excessive discharges of toxic chemicals" into Lake Michigan, which is the source of drinking water for more than 5 million people and arguing that U.S. Steel has committed "repeated and significant" violations of its permits under the Clean Water Act (CWA), 33 U.S.C. 1251-1387 (City of Chicago v. United States Steel Corporation, No. 18-33, N.D. Ind.).
- Judge Says CERLCA Commencement Date Applicable In Injury Suit
BIRMINGHAM, Ala.- A federal judge in Georgia on Jan. 23 denied motions for summary judgment filed by two companies arguing that 14 lawsuits for personal injuries and property damage caused by the operation of a pipe-making facility are time-barred, holding that the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) commencement date could be applied to the plaintiffs' claims (William Abner v. United States Pipe & Foundry Co., No. 15-cv-02040-KOB, N.D. Ala., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10146).
- Judge: Former Owner Of Contaminated Site Must Pay For 75 Percent Of Cleanup
FORT WAYNE, Ind. - A federal judge in Indiana on Jan. 16 reduced by $500,000 the amount a company owner can recover for cleaning up a former steel manufacturing site and ruled that the former owner and operator is liable for 75 percent of past and future response costs under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) because it has not taken any steps to remediate the contamination and has refused the plaintiff company's requests for assistance (Valbruna Slater Steel Corporation, et al. v. Joslyn Manufacturing Company, et al., No. 10-cv-44-JD, N.D. Ind., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7063).
- Judge: Government, State Can Seek Future Response Costs For Superfund Site
GREEN BAY, Wis. - The federal government and state of Wisconsin can pursue claims for future response costs from a company that has not settled a lawsuit stemming from the remediation of the Lower Fox River Superfund site, a federal judge in Wisconsin ruled Feb. 5 in granting in part the plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment (United States of America, et al. v. NCR Corp., et al., No. 10cv910, E.D. Wis., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18408).
- Judge: Settlement Cannot Be Enforced Until City Resolves Insurance Dispute
FRESNO, Calif. - A federal judge in California on Feb. 2 denied a landowner's motion to enforce a settlement agreement with a city accused of contributing to perchloroethylene (PCE) contamination, finding that the city must first resolve a dispute with its insurance carriers to obtain coverage (Gary Coppola, et al. v. Gregory Smith, et al., No. 11-CV-1257 AWI BAM, E.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17769).
- Massachusetts High Court Reinstates Association's Contamination Suit Against City
BOSTON - A panel of Massachusetts Supreme Court judges on Jan. 19 reinstated a condominium association's lawsuit against a city that previously used the site as a landfill, finding that the association's lawsuit was timely (Grand Manor Condominium Association v. City of Lowell, No. SJC-12294, Mass. Sup., 2018 Mass. LEXIS 15).
- Firm Barred From Filing Summary Judgment Motions In Contamination Dispute
CHICAGO - A federal judge in Illinois on Jan. 29 banned a private equity firm from filing any future motions for summary judgment absent good cause and leave from the court after denying a motion seeking dismissal of Honeywell International Inc.'s counterclaim for indemnification for the cleanup of benzene and vinyl chloride contamination at a site in Muncie, Ind. (Hammond Kennedy Whitney & Co. Inc. v. Honeywell International Inc., No. 16-cv-9808, N.D. Ill., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13917).
- Monsanto Lacks Standing To Assert Counterclaims Over PCB Contamination, Judge Says
SAN DIEGO - Monsanto Co. and its subsidiaries lack standing to assert counterclaims for response costs, defense costs and contingent liability, a federal judge in California ruled Jan. 30, finding that costs incurred in defending a lawsuit over polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination do not constitute an injury-in-fact (San Diego Unified Port District v. Monsanto Company, et al., No. 15cv578, S.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14996).
- Bankruptcy Judge Abstains From Hearing Injunction Bid For Environmental Claims
NEWARK, N.J. - A New Jersey federal bankruptcy judge on Jan. 26 abstained from deciding a request by former Chapter 11 debtor G-I Holdings Inc. to enforce its reorganization plan injunction to bar indemnification claims for cleanup of a polluted industrial site, saying a state court is "fully capable of adjudicating" the claims and G-I's injunction bid (In re: G-I Holdings, Inc., et al., Nos. 01-30135 and 01-38790, D. N.J. Bkcy., 2018 Bankr. LEXIS 214).
- Winemaker Agrees To Pay $330,000 For Deadly Ammonia Leak
FRESNO, Calif. - Gibson Wine Co. on Jan. 29 entered into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in which it said it would pay a $330,000 civil penalty and spend $300,000 to make improvements to its facility following a deadly leak of anhydrous ammonia at its Sanger, Calif., site (United States of America v. Gibson Wine Co., No. 15-cv-1900, E.D. Calif.).
- New York High Court To Decide If Coverage Due For Time No Insurance Was Available
ALBANY, N.Y. - After hearing oral arguments on Feb. 6, the New York Court of Appeals is set to decide whether an excess insurer owes coverage to its insured for the time periods when the insured was unable to purchase environmental liability insurance coverage even if the excess insurer's policies specifically stated that coverage is afforded only for damages occurring during the policy period (KeySpan Gas East Corp. v. Munich Reinsurance America Inc., et al., No. APL-2016-00236, N.Y. App.).
- Federal Judge Denies Motion To Strike In Contamination Coverage Dispute
TOLEDO, Ohio - An Ohio federal judge on Jan. 9 denied a motion to strike a deposition in an environmental contamination coverage dispute after determining that the insurers and the insureds agreed to extend the discovery deadline for the deposition to a time outside of the discovery deadline set by the court (Hartford Accident and Indemnity Co. et al., v. FFP Holdings LLC et al., No. 15-377, N.D. Ohio, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3810).
- No Coverage Due For Clean Air Act Violations, New York Panel Says
ROCHESTER, N.Y. - The Fourth Department New York Supreme Court Appellate Division on Feb. 2 determined that a trial court properly found that no coverage is owed under professional liability and environmental professional liability policies for a criminal action filed against an insured and arising out of alleged violation of the Clean Air Act because the criminal action does not constitute a suit for which coverage is provided (Certified Environmental Services Inc. v. Endurance America Insurance Co., et al., No. 1510 CA 17-01125, N.Y. Sup., App. Div., 4th Dept., 2018 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 704).
- Missouri Appeals Panel Says No Coverage Afforded For Release Of Methane Gas
ST. LOUIS - The Eastern District Missouri Court of Appeals on Dec. 19 affirmed that no coverage exists for the release of methane gas caused by an insured's remediation of a landfill site because the release did not occur during the effective policy coverage period (Hazelwood Logistics Center LLC v. Illinois Union Insurance Co., No. ED105571, Mo. App., Eastern Div., Div. 1, 2017 Mo. App. LEXIS 1328).