HARRISBURG, Pa. - A Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court panel on May 15 reversed an Environmental Hearing Board's decision requiring a gas gathering and processing company to produce documents to the Clean Air Council (CAC) after finding that the board should have first decided if the documents contained trade secrets and if the CAC showed a compelling need for the information (Mark West Liberty Midstream & Resources LLC v. Clean Air Council, et al., No. 1508 C.D. 2012, Pa. Cmwlth.).
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A third-party beneficiary claim fails against an insurance broker for its alleged failure to obtain proper insurance because there was no judgment obtained, a Florida federal judge ruled May 9 (Fireman's Fund Insurance Co. a/s/o Environmental Chemical and Environmental Chemical Corp. v. Landstar Ranger Inc. v. Got Your Back Pilot Cars LLC n/k/a Got UR Back Pilot Cars LLC, No. 11-1241, M.D. Fla.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66253).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A federal magistrate judge in the District of Columbia on May 13 ruled that the federal government should produce a witness for a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 30(b)(6) deposition in response to Lockheed Martin Corp.'s (LMC) request for information regarding the government's operation of Credit Cost Principle related to the company's lawsuit under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, but found that requests concerning five other topics were overbroad (Lockheed Martin Corporation v. United States of America, No. 08-1160, D. D.C.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 674399).
NEW YORK - The State of New York has a right to reimbursement for environmental contamination cleanup costs incurred on behalf of an insured because the state is authorized under New York law to file a direct action against an insurer for indemnification, the Third Department Supreme Court Appellate Division said May 9 (State of New York v. Zurich American Insurance Co., No. 514916, N.Y. Sup., App. Div., 3rd Dept.; 2013 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 3285).
PHOENIX - An Arizona appeals panel on May 7 affirmed the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality's (ADEQ) decision to deny an oil company's request for additional funds from the State Assurance Fund (SAF) because the company was required to submit a claim to its insurance carrier for coverage from a release from its underground storage tanks (USTs) (Western States Petroleum Inc. v. Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, et al., No. 1 CA-CV 11-0775, Ariz. App., Div. 1, Dept. C; 2013 Ariz. App. LEXIS 87).
ST. CROIX, Virgin Islands - A federal judge presiding over an environmental contamination suit stemming from refinery operations in the Virgin Islands on May 8 ruled that an expert for the plaintiffs can testify regarding environmental contamination caused by alumina refinery operations because he is qualified and because his opinions are supported by scientific evidence (Commissioner of the Department of Planning & Natural Resources, et al. v. Century Aluminum, No. 05-62, D. Virgin Islands; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 65361).
INDIANAPOLIS - An Indiana federal judge on May 3 stayed an insured's coverage action against an insurance company regarding its duty toward environmental claims pending the rehabilitation of the insurer (CAVU Ops Inc. v. American Motorists Insurance Co., et al., No. 11-01527, S.D. Ind.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63504).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A federal judge in the District of Columbia on May 7 dismissed a lawsuit brought by eight environmental groups claiming that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency violated the Clean Water Act (CWA) by failing to specify the amounts of each chemical dispersant on the National Contingency Plan (NCP) Product Schedule that can safely be used in each body of water, ruling that their claims are untimely (Alaska Community Action on Toxics, et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 12-1299, D. D.C.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 64678).
NEW ORLEANS - A federal judge in Louisiana on May 4 dismissed four environmental groups from a lawsuit over an alleged ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico caused by an underwater mudslide during Hurricane Ivan in September 2004 after finding that the groups lacked standing to pursue claims under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) (Apalachiola Riverkeeper, et al. v. Taylor Energy Company LLC, No. 12-0337 "Section E," E.D. La.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 64388).
BOSTON - A Rhode Island-based company that manufactures and distributes natural and synthetic rubber products agreed to pay $198,500 to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for violations of the Clean Air Act that occurred at one of its facilities in Brattleboro, Vt., the agency announced May 2.
TORONTO - A Canadian judge on May 1 stayed an action filed by a group of Ecuadorian claimants in relation to alleged environmental exposures, finding that Chevron Corp. has no assets in Canada to satisfy an $18.2 billion judgment issued in their favor in Ecuador (Yaiguaje v. Chevron Corporation, No. CV-12-9808-00CL, Ontario Super.).
FORT WORTH, Texas - A Texas appeals court has dismissed on a writ of mandamus counterclaims by a natural gas company that property owners and their environmental consultant conspired to defame the company by publicizing alleged contamination of their well water by hydraulic fracture stimulation (fracking), saying April 22 that the state's law protecting participation in issues of public concern barred many of the gas company's claims (In re Steven and Shyla Lipsky and Alisa Rich, relators, No. 2-12-00348-CV, Texas App, 2nd Dist.; 2013 Tex. App. LEXIS 4975).
HOUSTON - An insured is not entitled to coverage for an administrative action initiated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency because the administrative action does not constitute a lawsuit as that term is defined under the policies at issue, a Texas federal judge said April 18 (McGinnes Industrial Maintenance Corp. v. The Phoenix Insurance Co. et al., No. 11-4000, S.D. Texas).
SAN FRANCISCO - For the second time, a California federal judge on April 16 dismissed insureds' third-party claims against an insurer in a dispute over coverage for environmental contamination claims, finding that an amended third-party complaint (TPC) failed to establish supplemental jurisdiction over the insurer (Great American Insurance Co., et al. v. Michael Chang, et al., No. 3:12-cv-00833, N.D. Calif.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54013).
NEW YORK - A New York justice on April 15 granted an insured's motion that its insurer produce documents related to post-suit conduct in an environmental contamination coverage dispute after determining that the insurer failed to prove that the documents are protected by work product privilege (Estee Lauder Inc. v. OneBeacon Insurance Group LLC, et al., No. 602379/05, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
ST. LOUIS - The Eastern District Missouri Appeals Court on April 16 determined that Missouri law, not New York law, should be applied to a coverage dispute regarding environmental contamination caused by the insured's operation of lead smelter plants and reinstated a jury's verdict of $62 million entered in the insured's favor (The Doe Run Resources Corp. v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's London, et al., No. ED98086, Mo. App., E.D.; 2013 Mo. App. LEXIS 468).
NEWARK, N.J. - Reorganized Chapter 11 debtor G-I Holdings Inc. will pay $129,000 to settle claims related to environmental damage at a Tennessee site, according to a stipulation and order entered April 12 in New Jersey federal bankruptcy court (In re: G-I Holdings, Inc., et al., Nos. 01-30135 and 01-38790, D. N.J. Bkcy.).
NEW YORK - A magistrate judge recommended in a report issued April 15 that counterclaims filed by a plaintiffs' attorney sued by Chevron Corp. in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to prevent the enforcement of an $18.2 billion personal injury and environmental contamination judgment entered in Lago Agrio, Ecuador, be dismissed for failing to state a claim (Chevron Corp. v. Steven R. Donziger, et al., No. 11-691, S.D. N.Y.).
NEW ORLEANS - An insured seeking coverage for a settlement agreement regarding environmental cleanup costs is entitled to coverage for those claims because the policy clearly covers natural resource damages, the First Circuit Louisiana Court of Appeal said April 10 in reversing and remanding a trial court's ruling (Bollinger Shipyards Lockport LLC v. American International Specialty Lines Insurance Co., et al., No. 2012 CW 0351, La. App., 1st Cir.; 2013 La. App. Unpub. LEXIS 227).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A unanimous Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court panel, in an opinion issued April 9, affirmed that records created by the state Department of Environmental Protection during the investigation of a chemical release and fire at a natural gas well site are exempt from public review under the noncriminal investigation exception to the state right-to-know act (Christopher Heavens v. Pa. Department of Environmental Protection, No. 12-912, Pa. Cmwlth.; 2013 Pa. Commw. LEXIS 96).
RICHMOND, Va. - A Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on April 4 affirmed a federal judge's rulings that a defendant company in a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) suit is liable for contamination at a former fertilizer manufacturing site in Charleston, S.C., through successor liability and that other parties in the suit were potentially responsible parties (PRPs) under the act as a result of activities they conducted on the property (PCS Nitrogen Inc., et al. v. Ashley II of Charleston LLC, et al., Nos. 11-1662, 11-2087, 11-2099, 11-2104 and 11-2297, 4th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 6815).
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Dominion Energy Inc. and the federal government on April 1 entered into a proposed consent decree in Illinois federal court in which the company agreed to pay $3.4 million in civil penalties and spend $9.8 million on environmental mitigation projects to resolve claims that emissions from three of its coal-fired power plants violated the Clean Air Act (CAA) (United States of America v. Dominion Energy Inc., et al., No. 13-cv-3086-SEM-BGC, C.D. Ill.).
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Insurers have no duty to defend their insured against an underlying environmental contamination suit because the underlying suit does not allege that the contamination was the result of sudden or accidental conduct, a Tennessee federal judge said March 29 in denying the insured's motion to amend its complaint and motion to reconsider (Interstate Packaging Co. v. Century Indemnity Co. et al., No. 11-cv-00589, M.D. Tenn.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 45459).
MUSKOGEE, Okla. - Summary judgment was granted March 26 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma to an insurance company that provided general liability and umbrella coverage to a defendant in a state court class action alleging environmental damage from the disposal of produced water from a coal-ash waste disposal site (Colony Insurance Co. v. Bear Productions Inc., No. 12-122, E.D. Okla.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43716).
NEW YORK - Because issues of fact exist as to whether insurers waived their right to disclaim coverage based on late notice in an environmental contamination coverage suit, summary judgment in favor of the insurers was premature, the First Department New York County Supreme Court Appellate Division said March 26 (Long Island Lighting Co., et al. v. Allianz Underwriters Insurance Co., et al., No. 604715/97, N.Y. Sup., App. Div., 1st Dept.; 2013 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 1950).