BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - An Alabama federal judge on March 23 remanded a lawsuit brought by a former mail carrier who was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia against the owner and operator of two coke ovens that allegedly emitted toxic chemicals into the air to state court after finding that the plaintiff's state law claims are not preempted by the Clean Air Act (CAA) (Joel Thomas Morrison IV v. Drummond Company Inc., No. 14-CV-0406-SLB, N.D. Ala.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35482).
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Freedom Industries Inc. on March 23 pleaded guilty to three crimes against the environment for its role in a chemical spill in which 10,000 gallons of 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol (MCHM) were dumped into the Elk River in January 2014, according to press release issued by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) (United States of America v. Freedom Industries Inc., et al., No. 14-cr-00275, S.D. W.Va.).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A California federal judge on March 20 refused to dismiss a former employee's claims for violation of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), finding that she provided sufficient evidence to show that her husband suffered a serious health issue allegedly caused by mold and that she was entitled to FMLA leave (Sarah R. Novo v. City of Sacramento, et al., No. 2:13-cv-00521, E.D. Calif.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35309).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on March 19 filed a brief with the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board (EHB), arguing that a local municipality is precluded from objecting to the DEP's discovery requests as a matter of law (South Fayette Township v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, No. 2014-071-R, Pa. EHB).
UTICA, N.Y. - An Oneida County, N.Y., jury on March 18 returned a $4 million verdict against a parts distributor in an asbestos case, finding Pacemaker Steel & Piping Co. 30 percent liable for its predecessor's conduct, sources told Mealey Publications (Nicholas Dominick and Lorraine J. Dominick v. A.O. Smith Water Products, et al., No. CA2014-000232, N.Y. Sup., Oneida Co.).
NEW ORLEANS - Chemical company Chevron USA Inc. on March 20 removed to Louisiana federal court a groundwater contamination case, contending that under federal law the case alleging groundwater contamination could not stay in state court (Joseph Robertson, et al. v. Chevron USA Inc., et al., No. 15-00874, E.D. La.).
NEW YORK - A "barebones" affidavit conceding that a defendant manufactured asbestos-containing tile creates questions of genuine fact and does not meet the defendant's prima facie burden, a New York justice held in an opinion posted March 17 (John F. Storey and Candace Storey v. A.O. Smith Water Products Co., et al., No. 190283/13, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.; 2015 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 732).
NEW YORK - The attorney representing a group of Ecuadorian residents who won an $18.5 billion judgment against Chevron Corp. for personal injuries caused by the company's oil operations in the Lago Agrio region of Ecuador on March 19 filed a brief in federal appeals court in New York, arguing that the court should take judicial notice of documents currently being considered in parallel litigation (Chevron Corporation v. Steven R. Donziger, et al., No. 14-826, 2nd Cir.).
EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. - Sufficient evidence exists that two pump makers who supplied the U.S. Navy also supplied it with replacement parts a man worked with in enclosed spaces, a federal judge in Illinois held March 18 in an asbestos exposure case (William Hasenberg Jr. and Linda Hasenberg v. Asbestos Corp. Ltd., et al., No. 13-1325, S.D. Ill.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33635).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - The diagnosis of an asbestos-related injury and not the individual's death triggers the two-year statute of limitations for asbestos wrongful death claims after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down the previous governing law, a state appeals court held March 19 (Elizabeth Wygant, et al. v. General Electric Co., et al., No. 470 WDA 2014, Elizabeth Wygant, et al. v. General Electric Co., et al., No. 471 WDA 2014, Elizabeth Wygant, et al. v. General Electric Co., et al., No. 472, WDA 2014, Pa. Super.).
NEW YORK - A widow presents no evidence that a premises owner itself required asbestos-containing products, or that it controlled the work in a way sufficient for liability under New York employment law, a state judge held in denying leave to renew or reargue on March 17 (Phyllis Brown, et al. v. A.O. Smith Water Products, et al., No. 190415/12, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.; 2015 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 734).
SAN FRANCISCO - A California appeals panel on March 17 affirmed a trial court ruling that a food manufacturer had no duty to warn consumers of lead content in its food because it had "satisfactorily demonstrated" that the average anticipated rate of exposure to the toxin fell below regulatory thresholds (Environmental Law Foundation v. Beech-Nut Nutrition Corp., No. A139821, Calif. App., 1st Dist., Div. 1; 2015 Cal. App. LEXIS 246).
BROOKLYN, N.Y. - After finding that tenants failed to show that their building's cooperative refused to fix water and mold problems in their apartments because of their religion, a New York appeals court on March 18 reversed a decision that denied the cooperative's motions to dismiss (Lior Cohen, et al. v. Kings Point Tenant Corp., et al., No. 2013-01825, N.Y. Sup., App. Div., 2nd Dept.; 2015 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 2159).
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin on March 18 signed legislation that proponents hope encourages transparency in asbestos bankruptcy trust filings.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - The federal judge in Arkansas presiding over litigation filed by a class of residents who allege injuries related to easements for Exxon Mobil Corp.'s Pegasus Pipeline on March 17 dismissed the lawsuit, ruling that the plaintiffs' implied duty arguments are "misplaced" and that controlling precedent favors the company (Rudy F. Webb, et al. v. Exxon Mobil Corporation, et al., No. 13CV232 BSM, E.D. Ark.).
MILWAUKEE - A judge properly excluded layperson co-worker testimony regarding asbestos content, evidence of a defendant's duty and an Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation into a workplace, a Wisconsin court held March 17 while reversing some aspects of the order (June Calewarts, et al. v. CR Meyer and Sons Co., et al., No. 2014AP531, Wis. App.; Dist. 3; 2015 Wisc. App. LEXIS 208).
NEW YORK - The federal judge in New York presiding over litigation regarding groundwater allegedly contaminated by the gasoline additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) on March 16 denied an oil company's motion for summary judgment on grounds that the area, which is known to be contaminated, is connected to public water supplies (In re: Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether [MTBE] Products Liability Litigation, MDL 1358, No. 00-1898, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico v. Shell Oil Co., et al., No. 07 Civ. 10470, S.D. N.Y.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 32576).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A coal-fired power plant operator cannot intervene in a lawsuit brought by the Sierra Club against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and its administrator over their alleged failure to timely act on the environmental group's request to object to a Clean Air Act (CAA) permit issued to the facility, a federal judge in the District of Columbia ruled March 17, finding that the company has no standing (Sierra Club v. Regina McCarthy, Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 14-cv-2149, D. D.C.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 32264).
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - An Illinois appeals court on March 17 affirmed a $1.4 million asbestos verdict against a railroad for exposure arising from a property it leased, rejecting challenges to the verdict form, jury instructions and admission of evidence regarding the lease (In re: Estate of Lilienthal, No. 4-14-0280, Ill. App., 4th Dist.; 2015 Ill. App. Unpub. LEXIS 514).
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A judge improperly denied class certification to a group of plaintiffs seeking medical monitoring after allegedly suffering asbestos exposure during employment in a Missouri courthouse, a state appeals court panel held March 17 (David M. Elsea and Jeanne Morgan, et al. v. U.S. Engineering Co., and Jackson Co., Mo., No. WD77687, Mo. App.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A federal judge in the Veterans Claims U.S. Court of Appeals on March 16 vacated a ruling that had denied a veteran benefits for his claim of injury for alleged exposure to Agent Orange and remanded the case for further proceedings (John M. Rutherford v. Robert A. McDonald, No. 14-0138, Vet. Clms.; 2015 U.S. App. Vet. Claims LEXIS 303).
PADUCAH, Ky. - LWD PRP Group, an association of 58 companies that are potentially responsible parties (PRPs) for contamination at the LWD Incinerator Superfund site in Calvert City, Ky., cannot seek cost recovery under Section 107(a) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act or contribution under CERCLA Section 113(f), a federal judge in Kentucky ruled March 13 in dismissing claims against 68 defendant companies (LWD PRP Group v. ACF Industries LLC, et al., No. 12-CV-00127-GNS-HBB, W.D. Ky.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31369).
PHILADELPHIA - A panel of the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on March 16 affirmed a lower court's decision and held that a doctor who sued the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania seeking information about the content of hydraulic fracturing fluids lacked standing to bring the action because he failed to demonstrate standing (Dr. Alfonso Rodriguez M.D. v. Secretary of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, et al., No. 14-3467, 3rd Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 4126).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - Evidence in an asbestos case falls short of demonstrating sufficient exposure from brakes on a manufacturer's cranes, a Pennsylvania appeals court held March 16 (Norman J. Sterling and Laura M. Sterling v. P&H Mining Equipment Inc., a/k/a Joy Global Surface Mining Inc., No. 1006 EDA 2014, Pa. Super.).
PITTSBURGH - An insurer has no duty to defend or indemnify a number of its policyholders against underlying claims arising from the discharge of raw sewage onto the land of other property owners because the policyholders did not dispute the carrier's argument that coverage is barred pursuant to the policies' exclusions for pollution liability and biological deterioration, a Pennsylvania federal judge said March 13 (Nationwide Property and Casualty Insurance Co., et al. v. Randy Shearer, et al., No. 14-735, W.D. Pa.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31126).