LAKE CHARLES, La. - An oil and gas extraction company was granted summary judgment in an order entered Dec. 3 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana because the landowner suing for property damage was not explicitly assigned the right to recover damages for drilling activities before he acquired the land in 2009 (Leonard Broussard, et al. v. Dow Chemical Co., et al., No. 11-1446, W.D. La.; 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 171994).
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - A student's "summer helper" work for the college he attended qualifies him as an employee, placing his asbestos claims under the exclusivity provision of the state's workers' compensation law, a Rhode Island judge held Dec. 3 (Marco Cera and Danielle Cera, et al. v. A.W. Chesterton Co., et al., No. PC-12-0678, R.I. Super., Providence Plantation; 2012 R.I. Super. LEXIS 177).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - In a 19-14 vote on Dec. 5, the Ohio Senate passed legislation requiring plaintiffs to provide a sworn statement regarding claims against asbestos bankruptcy trusts and produce all materials related to any submission, sources told Mealey Publications. The legislation now heads to the governor.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A divided federal appeals panel on Dec. 5 refused to reconsider its earlier decision affirming a trial judge's prohibition of graphic cigarette pack warnings proposed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on the ground that they compelled commercial speech in violation of First Amendment rights (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, et al. v. United States Food and Drug Administration, et al., No. 11-5332, D.C. Cir.).
NEW YORK - For the second time in three months, a New York federal judge on Dec. 3 denied aviation defendants' motion seeking collateral setoff, finding that fact issues regarding the correspondence between categories of insurance recovery and categories of tort damage preclude summary judgment in a lawsuit arising from the damage to 7 World Trade Center as a result of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks (In Re September 11 Litigation, Nos. 21 MC 101, S.D. N.Y.). View a complimentary copy of the opinion and order in the pdf attached below.
LAKE CHARLES, La. - A unanimous Third Circuit Louisiana Court of Appeal panel on Dec. 5 affirmed evidentiary rulings and judgment for the plaintiffs in a chemical exposure lawsuit arising from a September 2006 explosion and fire at a chemical refinery in Calcasieu Parish, La. (Tangela Annette Brown, et al. v. Georgia Gulf Lake Charles, No. 12-635, La. App., 3rd Cir.). View related prior history, 2011 La. LEXIS 1778.
BILLINGS, Mont. - A Montana miner who alleges that occupational exposure to dust in a palladium and platinum mine resulted in his contracting squamous cell carcinoma will be able to pursue negligence and loss of consortium claims in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana against the owner of the mine; the defendant was granted summary judgment with respect to a strict liability claim in the order entered Dec. 3 (Michael Cobos, et uxor v. Stillwater Mining Co., No. 11-18, D. Mont.; 2102 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 171510).
CHICAGO - The Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 3 vacated a decision that dismissed two actions filed by an inmate who alleged that a correctional facility contained mold and other hazards, finding that a district court erred in finding that he could not proceed in forma pauperis (IFP) (Ryan Miller v. Marcus Hardy, et al., Nos. 11-2365 and 11-2469, 7th Cir.; 2012 U.S. App.. LEXIS 24823).
BALTIMORE - A Maryland woman who alleges that she was injured by Baltimore courthouse security guards who exposed her to electromagnetic radiation when she attempted to enter the courthouse may pursue personal injury claims in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland against a guard who wielded the wand and sheriff's department officials who supervised the guard, the presiding judge ruled Dec. 3 (Linda Carter v. Maryland, No. 12-1789, D. Md.; 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 171226).
OXFORD, Miss. - The unopposed motion by a Mississippi employer sued in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi for allegedly failing to provide a safe work environment and, as a result, exposing its employee to hexavalent chromium in welding fumes was granted Dec. 3; the trial is now scheduled for Nov. 4, 2013, in Aberdeen, Miss. (Pinnacle Trust Co. v. Babcock & Wilcox Power Generation Group Inc., et al., No. 11-2, N.D. Miss.).
NEW ORLEANS - The opinions of a plaintiff's expert regarding concentrations of benzene in paints to which the plaintiff was exposed, as well as the duration of exposure, are speculative and unreliable pursuant to Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (509 U.S. 579, 590 ), a Louisiana federal judge said in a Nov. 30 decision excluding the expert (Craig Moore, et al. BASF Corporation, et al., No. 11-1001 E.D. La.; 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 170411).
CHICAGO - A man alleges both negligence and failure to warn in his asbestos action, and CBS Corp. raises a colorable defense against both, a panel of the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Nov. 30 (Henry Ruppel v. CBS Corp., No. 12-2236, U.S. App., 7th Cir.). View related prior history, 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 24625.
ALBANY, N.Y. - A New York appeals court on Nov. 29 affirmed a lower court's decision that granted summary judgment in favor of a property owner, finding that a woman failed to establish that mold-covered steps caused her to slip and fall (Buena Decker, et al. v. Timothy C. Schildt, No. 514831, N.Y. Sup., App. Div., 3rd Dept.; 2012 NY Slip Op 8220).
HOUSTON - A Texas appeals court on Nov. 29 reversed a decision that denied summary judgment for a homeowners association, finding that a trial court erred when it denied claims that sought an order that a resident be required to remove mold from his property and that a foreclosure of a vendor's lien be entered (Greatwood Community Association Inc. v. Prince David Ofor, No. 01-11-00509, Texas App.; 1st Dist.; 2012 Tex. App. LEXIS 9863).
SYDNEY, Australia - An Australian appeals court on Nov. 29 overturned a decision that determined that a dust diseases tribunal was the appropriate forum to hear a man's asbestos-related compensation action, finding various factors that favored a ruling that the case be heard in New Zealand, including that the defendant is located there (Studorp Ltd v Robinson,  NSWCA 382, New South Wales App.).
OAKLAND, Calif. - An Alameda County, Calif., jury on Nov. 28 awarded a man suffering from mesothelioma $5,437,882.56, while holding the sole remaining defendant, Crane Co., 7 percent liable (James Hellam v. Crane Co., RG11609947, Calif. Super., Alameda Co.).
CHICAGO - Motions to exclude testimony and expert supplemental reports about electronic cigarette use filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois by a commercial truck driver who alleges respiratory injuries from exposure to solvents and acetate compounds that leaked from drums he was transporting were denied Nov. 27 (Steven Noffsinger v. The Valspar Corp., et al., No. 09-916, N.D. Ill.; 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 167776).
BALTIMORE - A Maryland federal bankruptcy judge on Nov. 29 lifted the automatic stay in Lloyd E. Mitchell Inc.'s (LEM) Chapter 11 case so a confidential settlement among the debtor, two insurers and a law firm representing 9,000 asbestos personal injury claimants can be implemented, over the objections of attorneys representing thousands of other asbestos claimants (In re: Lloyd E. Mitchell Inc., No. 06-13250, D. Md. Bkcy.; 2012 Bankr. LEXIS 5531).
MADISON, Wis. - A unanimous District IV Wisconsin Court of Appeals panel issued an opinion Nov. 29 affirming an award of workers' compensation benefits for 20 percent disability from occupational manganese exposure (Hooper Corp., et al. v. Labor & Industry Review Commission, et al., No. 12-973, Wis. App. Dist. IV; 2012 Wisc. App. LEXIS 936).
WILMINGTON, Del. - The State of Wisconsin on Nov. 29 filed a brief in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware arguing that bankrupt NewPage Corp.'s Chapter 11 reorganization plan should not be confirmed because it would hinder the state's ability to enforce various environmental laws it alleges that the company has violated (In Re: NewPage Corporation, No. 11-12804, Chapter 11, D. Del. Bkcy.).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Saying a trial court should have allowed Philip Morris USA Inc. to argue that a plaintiff's conspiracy claim supporting punitive damages was untimely, Florida's Fourth District Court of Appeal on Nov. 28 reversed a $16.2 million punitive damages award in an Engle (Engle v. Liggett Group, Inc., 945 So. 2d 1246 [Fla. 2006]) progeny wrongful death smoking case (Philip Morris USA Inc. v. Allyson Kayton, No. 4D10-3573, Fla. App., 4th Dist.). View a complimentary copy of the opinion in the pdf attached below.
NEW YORK - World Trade Center Properties LLC and its holding companies must establish legally recoverable tort damages exceeding their insurance payments before they can seek recovery of any subrogated insurers' settlement proceeds of the $1.2 billion settlement involving the aviation defendants in a Sept. 11, 2001, coverage dispute, a New York federal judge ruled Nov. 27 (In Re September 11 Litigation, No. 21 MC 101, S.D. N.Y.).
WHEELING, W.Va. - Both a railroad's claims that lawyers fraudulently filed asbestos actions against it and the lawyers' counterclaims accusing the railroad of fraud may proceed, a West Virginia federal judge held Nov. 26 (CSX Transportation Inc. v. Robert V. Gilkison, et al., No. 05-202, N.D. W.Va.; 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 167811).
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Plaintiffs divided jury awards among liable parties and accepted settlements as final payments and cannot reopen their cases for additional recovery from an asbestos bankruptcy trust, a Maryland appeals court held Nov. 26 (Charles T. Brannan Jr., et al. v. Wallace & Gale Asbestos Settlement Trust, No. 2287 September Term, 2008, Md. Spec. App.; 2012 Md. App. LEXIS 132).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A District of Columbia federal judge on Nov. 27 released the language tobacco companies will be required to include in corrective statements in newspaper and television advertisements, on their websites and in cigarette packaging to counteract what the judge found to be decades of deceptive advertising about the health risks of tobacco (U.S.A. v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al., No. 1:99-cv-2496, D. D.C.).