LANSING, Mich. - Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced Jan. 25 that as part of the probe into the lead water crisis in Flint, Mich., he had appointed a former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to establish a "conflict wall" between the special counsel and the Attorney General's Office amid accusations from the Michigan Democratic Party (MDP) that the attorney general should be replaced by an independent investigator.
NEW YORK - Testimony that a man worked with a defendant's cast-iron pipes does not suffice to keep a company in an asbestos action, a federal judge in New York held Jan. 21 (Cheyanne Holzworth, et al. v. Alfa Laval Inc., et al., No. 12-6088, S.D. N.Y.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7185).
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 Jan. 21 denied a motion to dismiss the complaint, ruling that while one of the defendants has never affirmatively indicated that it had been served, it remained silent for more than a year and has participated in the litigation (In re: Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether [MTBE] Products Liability Litigation, MDL 1358, No. 00-1898, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Exxon Mobil Corporation, et al., No. 14 Civ. 6228, S.D. N.Y).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A workers' compensation court properly admitted expert testimony linking asbestos exposure with a man's fatal colon cancer, a Pennsylvania court held in affirming an award of benefits Jan. 22 (Garrison Architects and Travelers Insurance Co. v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board [Piatetsky], No. 1095 C.D. 2015, Pa. Cmwlth. Ct.; 2016 Pa. Commw. Unpub. LEXIS 72).
WATERLOO, Iowa - A federal judge in Iowa on Jan. 19 approved a consent decree that would require the City of Waterloo, Iowa, to pay $272,000 in civil penalties to Iowa and the federal government and improve its wastewater treatment plant in order to resolve a lawsuit accusing the city of violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) by discharging raw sewage into the Cedar River after finding that the settlement was reasonable (United States of America v. City of Waterloo, No. 15-cv-2087, N.D. Iowa; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7224).
CAMDEN, N.J. - The New Jersey federal judge presiding over a vinyl chloride exposure lawsuit on Jan. 21 issued a pretrial order that detailed the disputed factual matters between residents who contend that railroad companies are liable for their injuries and those same companies that deny that the plaintiffs have suffered "immediate and/or permanent injuries" (In Re: Paulsboro Derailment Cases, No. 13-784, D. N.J.).
ATLANTA - A power company on Jan. 19 asked the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to throw out a $3 million asbestos verdict against it, saying it owed no duty to household members while also challenging causation and expert witnesses (Melissa Ann Bobo and Sharon Jean Cox, as co-personal representatives of the estate of Barbara Bobo v. Tennessee Valley Authority, No. 15-15271, 11th Cir.).
SAN FRANCISCO - A judge did not err in excluding an expert nor in retrying punitive damages before a new jury after the first one failed to reach a verdict, a California appeals court panel held Jan. 21 in upholding the almost $4 million asbestos verdict (Patricia Casey v. Kaiser Gypsum Company Inc., No. A133062, Calif. App., 1st Dist.).
PHILADELPHIA - A federal judge in Pennsylvania on Jan. 19 dismissed a groundwater contamination lawsuit, concluding that the couple who alleged that manufacturers had poisoned their well water failed to sufficiently allege an imminent and substantial endangerment to their health and safety (Bradley Warren, et al. v. Johnson Matthey Inc., No. 15-01919, E.D. Pa.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6065).
DALLAS - A federal judge in Texas on Jan. 19 dismissed without prejudice a lawsuit brought by two environmental groups accusing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) when it failed to object to a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit issued to Georgia-Pacifica LLC in 2009, holding that the groups' alleged injury was not caused by the agency's inaction (Ouachita Riverkeeper Inc., et al. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 14-CV-4495-L, N.D. Texas; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6107).
WILMINGTON, Del. - A Delaware federal bankruptcy judge on Jan. 19 closed the Chapter 11 case of The Flintkote Co.'s Canadian affiliate, which has merged into Flintkote as part of the companies' reorganization and no longer operates its business (In re: The Flintkote Co., No. 04-11300, D. Del. Bkcy.).
EUGENE, Ore. - A federal magistrate judge in Oregon on Jan. 14 allowed the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) and American Petroleum Institute (API) to intervene in a lawsuit brought by young plaintiffs claiming that the federal government's inaction over carbon dioxide pollution is casing climate destabilization and ocean acidification, ruling that the manufacturers have a protectable interest in the lawsuit (Kelsey Cascadia Rose Juliana, et al. v. United States of America, et al., No. 15-cv-1517, D. Ore.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4719).
RICHMOND, Va. - Federal officer removal requires only plausible evidence of a colorable defense, and a former admiral's affidavit regarding Navy asbestos procedures suffices, a premises owner told the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 15 (Charles B. Brinkman and Louise K. Brinkman v. John Crane Inc., et al., No. 15-1752, 4th Cir.).
Residents of Flint, Mich., on Jan. 19 filed two putative class action lawsuits in Michigan state court, seeking damages for lead contamination in the city's water supply. One lawsuit names Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and his administration as defendants, while the other complaint names the City of Flint and its officers as defendants (Melissa Mays, et al. v. Gov. Rick Snyder, et al., No. N/A, Mich. Clms., and Melissa Mays, et al. v. City of Flint, et al., No. 16-N/A. Mich. Cir., Genesee Co.).
ST. LOUIS - Without expert testimony, a plaintiff cannot raise a genuine issue of material fact concerning actual exposure to mold and whether exposure to mold caused his alleged ailments, a Missouri federal judge ruled Jan. 14, granting summary judgment to the manufacturers and designers of a bed (Ralph Simon v. Select Comfort Retail Corp., et al., No. 14-1136, E.D. Mo.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4475).
SEATTLE - A Washington state court on Jan. 14 declined to stay a case while the state's high court decides whether the expiration of a man's personal injury claim bars a subsequently filed wrongful death action (Geraldine Barabin, et al. v. AstenJohnson Inc., et al., Nos. 72626-9-1, 72720-6-1, 72721-4-1, 72722-2-1, 727224-9-1, 72725-7-1, Wash. App., Div. 1; 2016 Wash. App. LEXIS 47).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A District of Columbia federal judge on Jan. 13 denied tobacco companies' motion to recuse himself from their challenge of a Food and Drug Administration industry guidance on whether and when a change to a tobacco product's label, quantity, additives or specifications renders the later product a "new tobacco product" subject to premarket review (Philip Morris United States, et al. v. United States Food and Drug Administration, et al., No. 1:15-cv-01590 [APM], D. D.C.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3994).
BISMARK, N.D. - An employer is not liable for failing to warn household members of the dangers of asbestos, the North Dakota Supreme Court held Jan. 14 after finding that a widow lacks sufficient evidence of a special relationship between the employer and its employee's son or that the employer knew the risks (Deborah J. Palmer, surviving spouse of Gary J. Palmer, deceased v. 999 Quebec Inc. [f/k/a International Boiler Works Co.], et al., No. 2016 ND 17, N.D. Sup.; 2016 N.D. LEXIS 17).
SANTA FE, N.M. - The New Mexico Department of the Environment on Jan. 14 submitted a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the State of Colorado and the owners of the Gold King and Sunnyside Mines under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) for the environmental impacts stemming from a massive spill of wastewater into the Animas River in August 2015.
FLINT, Mich. - Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced Jan. 15 that his office is investigating the water crisis in Flint, Mich., to see if state laws were violated in connection with the lead contamination that has forced the governor to declare a state of emergency.
COLUMBUS, Ohio - One of the plaintiffs in the multidistrict litigation brought by Ohio residents who contend that E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. is liable for personal injuries related to exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (known as C8) on Jan. 11 filed a brief in Ohio federal court supporting his motion to clarify if he will be permitted to offer evidence at trial regarding his fear of future disease (In re E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. C-8 Personal Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2433, No. 13-2433, S.D. Ohio).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - Virginia's statute of limitations began with a man's asbestosis diagnosis, and any challenge to the accuracy of that diagnosis should properly have been raised at that time, a Pennsylvania Superior Court panel held Jan. 12 (James Herbert, executor of the estate of Vincent W. Gatto Sr. v. American Biltrite and its division, Amtico, et al., No. 1702 WDA 2014, Pa. Super.).
PHILADELPHIA - Ship-owner asbestos defendants strategically waived personal jurisdiction defenses, and a judge erred in allowing them to relitigate the issue 25 years later, plaintiffs told the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 11 (Lionel C. Wilson, Joseph F. Braun, and Thomas Guiden v. Matson Navigation Co. Inc., American President Lines Ltd., Nos. 15-1387, 15-1388, 15-1389, 3rd Cir.).
NEW YORK - A Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Jan. 11 overruled a defendant company's argument that the federal government's claim against it under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) was untimely, holding that the storage of hazardous waste constitutes a continuing offense (United States of America v. Tonawanda Coke Corp., No. 14-1091-cr, 2nd Cir.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 332).
NEW YORK - Saying that the defendants' reliance on a commentary demonstrates its relevance, a New York justice on Jan. 12 declined to quash the deposition of the author (In re: New York City Asbestos Litigation, All Weitz & Luxenberg Asbestos Cases, No. 040000/88, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).