SAN FRANCISCO - At the pleading stage, a couple's allegation that a shipbuilder manufactured asbestos-containing products overcomes the fact that strict product liability law does not construe a ship as a product, a California federal judge held April 3 (Robert Whalen and Linda Whalen v. General Electric Corp., et al., No. 14-436, N.D. Calif.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47027).
BATON ROUGE, La. - In a 7-5 vote, the Louisiana House of Representatives Committee on Civil Law and Procedure on April 1 passed legislation requiring latent disease actions such ase those involving asbestos and silica exposure to be brought in the parish where the exposure occurred.
ATLANTA - Two employees lack standing under Article III of the U.S. Constitution to bring claims against their employer over alleged violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA), Clean Air Act (CAA) and other environmental law, a federal judge in Georgia ruled March 27, because their complaint fails to allege an injury-in-fact (Liviu Porta, et al. v. Jacobson Companies Inc., et al., No. 13-cv-00387-WSD, N.D. Ga.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40693).
PITTSBURGH - Defendants accused in class action lawsuits consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania of manufacturing and marketing dog treats that harm the dogs by causing kidney damage and death were granted a motion to dismiss an unjust enrichment claim on March 25; claims of marketing misrepresentations and violation of consumer protection laws survived the motion to dismiss (In re Milo's Kitchen Dog Treats Consolidated Cases, No. 12-1011, W.D. Pa.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39190; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39185).
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - While nothing in Connecticut case law directly addresses the issue, the state would not hold a manufacturer of multiuse tools liable for a man's exposure to asbestos, a state judge held in denying reconsideration March 20 (Joseph Abate Jr., administrator, et al. v. AAF-McQuay Inc., No. CV 10-6006228 S, Conn. Super., Fairfield at Bridgeport Dist.; 2013 Conn. Super. LEXIS 703).
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Ford Motor Co. cannot be liable under a premises liability theory where the contractor's employer is unknown, product liability theory where there was no evidence that the decedent used its asbestos-containing brakes and is immune from suit under workers' compensation laws for work that did not involve specialized skills, a Kentucky appeals court affirmed March 14 (Keitha Durham, et al. v. Ford Motor Co., Nos. 2012-CA-000889-MR, 2012-CA-001209-MR, Ky. App.; 2014 Ky. App. Unpub. LEXIS 214).
EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. - Whether petroleum byproducts containing benzene are "an offensive substance" within the meaning of the Municipal Code of Roxana, Ill., was certified for interlocutory appeal March 5 by an Illinois federal judge (Village of Roxana v. Shell Oil Co., et al., No. 3:12-cv-577, S.D. Ill.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27759).
NEW ORLEANS - Voluntary dismissal of an asbestos wrongful death action that interrupted prescription renders a subsequently filed survival action untimely under Louisiana law, a federal judge held Feb. 28 (Tina Davidson, et al. v. Georgia Pacific LLC, et al., No. 12-1463, W.D. La.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1107).
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - Restrictions on Native American prison inmates' ability to smoke ceremonial tobacco, grow their hair long and wear items of religious significance impose substantial burdens on their religious exercise, a Texas federal magistrate judge said in a Feb. 27 opinion, but are nevertheless lawful because the policies are the least restrictive means of furthering the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's (TDCJ) interest in maintaining security and controlling costs (Teddy Norris Davis, et al. v. William Stephens, et al., No. 2:12-CV-166, S.D. Texas, Corpus Christi Div.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25030).
LONDON - An England and Wales justice on Feb. 24 dismissed a contractor's appeal of a tribunal's decision that modified a health and safety inspector's improvement notice, finding that the tribunal did not err when it found that the contractor breached health and safety law when it failed to notify the property owner about the risks of asbestos (MWH UK Limited v. Victoria Susan Wise $(H.M. Inspector of Health & Safety$), No. $(2014$) EWHC 427 $(Admin$), England and Wales High, Admin.).
ROCKVILLE, Md. - For what it says is the first time since the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act became law in 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Feb. 21 ordered an end to the sale in the United States of a Chinese company's "bidi" tobacco products that failed to pass regulatory approval.
GEORGETOWN, Del. - Resolving what it called a "tension" in its case law, a divided Delaware Supreme Court on Feb. 20 said the state is not the proper forum for Argentines' asbestos action against an E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co, Inc. subsidiary (Maria Elena Martinez, et al. v. E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company Inc., No. 669,2012, Del. Sup.).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A federal judge in California on Feb. 5 denied a mining company's request to certify for interlocutory appeal his findings of fact and conclusions of law in which he held that the company was liable for cleanup costs at a Superfund site, after finding that the company seeks to challenge every aspect of his decision (United States of America, et al. v. Sterling Centrecorp Inc., et al., No. 08-cv-02556-MCE-DAD, E.D. Calif.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14311).
PASADENA, Calif. - There was nothing deceptive in an automaker's use of Environmental Protection Agency mileage estimates, and the California unfair competition law (UCL) imposes no duty to disclose lower, internal estimates, a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel held Feb. 5 (Tracy Gray, et al. v. Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc., Toyota Motor North America Inc., No. 12-55362, 9th Cir.).
DENVER - Neighbors of the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant in Colorado may not pursue state law tort claims against the contractors who operated the plant because the claims are preempted by the Price-Anderson Act, the federal judge presiding over the litigation ruled Jan. 28 (Merilyn Cook, et al. v. Rockwell International Corp., et al., No. 90-181, D. Colo.).
INDIANAPOLIS - No coverage is owed for perchlorate contamination caused by an insured's manufacturing of highway safety flares because the policies' pollution exclusions are applicable under Maryland law and bar coverage for the claims, the Indiana Court of Appeals said Jan. 23 (Chubb Custom Insurance Co. et al., v. Standard Fusee Corp., No. 49A02-1301-PL-91, Ind. App.; 2014 Ind. App. LEXIS 15).
HONG KONG - The Hong Kong SAR Government on Jan. 22 announced that it has passed a new environmental law that will ban the importation and use of all asbestos.
NEWARK, N.J. - A federal judge in New Jersey on Jan. 6 dismissed a lawsuit brought by two plaintiff companies under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act and for violations of other state laws after finding that the companies failed to sufficiently allege that the defendant disposed of hazardous materials on the property (Heller Urban Renewal LLC, et al. v. FER Boulevard Realty Corp., et al., No. 13-431, D. N.J.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1558).
PORTLAND, Ore. - A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Dec. 20 affirmed an award of summary judgment to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, after finding that it did not violate the Clean Water Act (CWA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) when granting a mining company's application for a permit to conduct mining operations that would generate hexavalent chromium (Cr+6) (John B. Jones III, et al. v. National Marine Fisheries Service, et al., No. 11-35954, 9th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 25353).
BOULDER, Col. - A Colorado judge on Oct. 4 determined that an excess insurer's pollution exclusion does not bar coverage for underlying claims arising out of defective Chinese drywall because under applicable Massachusetts law, questions of fact exist regarding whether the pollution exclusion bars coverage for nontraditional environmental contamination claims (ProBuild Holdings Inc. v. Travelers Property Casualty Co., et al., No. 10-378 cons w/10-2912, Colo. Dist., Boulder Co.).
SYRACUSE, N.Y. - A federal judge in New York on Sept. 5 refused to remand a lawsuit challenging Honeywell International Inc.'s compliance with an agreement with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over the cleanup of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), finding that the plaintiffs' remaining state law claims still implicate federal issues (Camillus Clean Air Coalition, et al. v. Honeywell International Inc., No. 13-CV-365, N.D. N.Y.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125843).
INDIANAPOLIS - The majority of an Indiana Court of Appeals panel on Aug. 2 determined that because California law should be applied to an environmental contamination coverage suit, an insurer has no duty to cover cleanup costs incurred by its insured (Northern Assurance Company of America, as successor in interest to certain liabilities of Employers Surplus Lines Insurance Co., v. Thomson Inc. k/n/a Technicolor USA Inc., et al., No. 49A04-1208-PL-400, Ind. App.; 2013 Ind. App. LEXIS 370).
INDIANAPOLIS - An Indiana federal judge on June 17 overruled an insured's objections to a magistrate judge's discovery ruling after determining that the documents sought by the insured were not relevant to the choice-of-law analysis in an environmental contamination coverage dispute (Visteon Corp. et al. v. National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, Pa. et al., No. 11-200, S.D. Ind.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84628).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 7 reversed a district court's ruling that the U.S. Trade Representative must release a document that was introduced during negotiations of a free-trade agreement with foreign nations, finding that the trade representative properly withheld the document as confidential (Center for International Environmental Law v. Office of the United States Trade Representative, et al., No. 12-5136, D.C. Cir.; 2013 U.S. Dist. App. LEXIS 11477).
MINNEAPOLIS - The majority of the Minnesota Supreme Court on May 31 affirmed that damages resulting from the improper installation of a boiler and carbon monoxide detector are excluded from coverage pursuant to an insurance policy's pollution exclusion because under Minnesota law, a pollution exclusion is not limited to only environmental pollutants under Minnesota law (Midwest Family Mutual Insurance Co. v. Michael D. Wolters, et al., No. A11-181, Minn. Sup.; 2013 Minn. LEXIS 304).