TACOMA, Wash. - The negligence and punitive damages claims of the administratrix of the estate of a deceased stevedore survived a defense motion for summary judgment on Nov. 4 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington because, the presiding judge concluded, issues of material fact remain as to how the plaintiff's decedent ended up in the hold of a barge owned by the defendant and whether the defendant failed to warn of the risks of carbon monoxide exposure on the barge (Sandra L. Summers v. Salmon Bay Barge Line Inc., No. 13-5859, W.D. Wash.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 157914).
LONDON - An England and Wales appeals court on Nov. 6 allowed a former government worker's appeal of a decision that dismissed his asbestos-related claim against an electricity firm but affirmed the dismissal of his claim against a local government department (Percy Leonard McDonald v. Department for Communities and Local Government and National Grid Electricity Transmission Plc., No. $(2013$) EWCA Civ 1346, England and Wales App.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 4 denied a company's petition for a writ of certiorari in which it challenged a Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling affirming a decision that it was liable for cleanup costs under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (PCS Nitrogen Inc. v. Ashley II of Charleston LLC, et al., No. 13-319, U.S. Sup.).
LONDON - The United Kingdom Civil Justice Council (CJC) on Nov. 1 released its response to a proposal for reforming mesothelioma claims in the United Kingdom, agreeing that there is a need for such claims to be handled quickly but noting various concerns about a new system.
LONDON - The United Kingdom Health and Safety Executive (HSE) on Oct. 31 announced that an English magistrates' court on Oct. 31 fined a council and decorating firm for exposing workers to asbestos.
LOS ANGELES - After finding that a condominium owner suffered no covered loss in relation to the demolition of an allegedly leaking shower that caused mold, a California appeals court on Oct. 30 affirmed a decision to deny him coverage under his insurance policy (Paul Sigelman v. State Farm General Insurance Co., No. B241981, Calif. App., 2nd Dist., Div. 1; 2013 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 7843).
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - A Michigan federal judge said the court has personal jurisdiction over a subsidiary of the Canadian company whose pipeline burst in Marshall, Mich., spilling tar sands oil laced with benzene into the Kalamazoo River (Fredonia Farms LLC, et al. v. Enbridge Energy Partners L.P., No. 1:12-cv-01005, W.D. Mich.).
LOS ANGELES - A trial judge's order directing removal of two pages from a law firm's website during an asbestos trial constitutes prior restraint of speech and violates the First Amendment, a California appeals court held Oct. 30 (Christie Steiner, et al. v. The Superior Court of Santa Barbara Co., Volkswagen Group of America, et al., No. B235347, Calif. App., 2nd Dist., Div. 6).
LOS ANGELES - A trial judge did not err in barring an asbestos expert from testifying regarding publications not in evidence nor in limiting cross-examination of two defense witnesses in a trial netting a defense verdict for automobile manufacturers, a California appeals panel held Oct. 30 (Christie Steiner, as successor in interest, etc. v. Volkswagen Group of America Inc., et al., Nos. B236532, B240488, Calif. App., 2nd Dist., Div. 6).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A District of Columbia federal judge on Oct. 30 granted an environmental agency's motion for judgment on claims asserted by a former employee, finding no evidence that the agency discriminated or retaliated against her in relation to her mold allergies (Connie K. Morris v. Lisa P. Jackson, No. 07-491, D. D.C.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 155513).
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Two putative class action lawsuits seeking property damage compensation stemming from the rupture of Exxon Mobil Corp.'s Pegasus pipeline that inundated Mayflower, Ark., with heavy Canadian tar stands oil survived motions to dismiss Oct. 31 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas (Ellen Burgess, et al. v. Exxon Mobil Corporation, No. 4:13-cv-199; Rudy Webb, et al. v. Exxon Mobil Corp., No. 4:13-cv-00232, E.D. Ark., Western Div.).
GRETNA, La. - A truck driver who claims that he was splashed with refinery tank residue containing benzene may not bring suit under Louisiana law, the state's Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal said in an Oct. 30 decision affirming a lower court's holding, but may avail himself only of the Louisiana Workers' Compensation Act (LWCA) (Vincent E. Johnson v. Motiva Enterprises LLC, et al., No. 13-CA-305, La. App., 5th Cir.; 2013 La. App. LEXIS 2196).
EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. - An Illinois federal judge on Oct. 30 found that a prison inmate's claims related to mold exposure and poor conditions against a warden in his individual and official capacity could proceed but dismissed claims for negligence (Francisco Morales v. Randy Davis, No. 13-01046, S.D. Ill.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 155434).
CINCINNATI - A unanimous Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel affirmed summary judgment on Oct. 30 for a natural gas and oil extraction company in a dispute over the interpretation of a clause in oil and natural gas leases addressing third-party offers to acquire the leases (Ronald E. Stewart, et uxor v. Chesapeake Exploration, No. 12-4457 $(consolidated$), 6th Cir.).
NEW YORK - A New York justice on Oct. 28 found that a landlord was entitled to unpaid rent from the owner of a hydrotherapy spa for dogs but awarded the tenant damages for repairs she completed, including mold remediation (136 Ninth Avenue Corp. v. The Dog Run LLC, et al., No. 104454/11, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.; 2013 NY Slip OP 32677).
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The discretionary function doctrine shields an electricity provider for take-home asbestos exposure claims arising from its federally mandated objective, but claims arising from exposure allegedly arising from violations of federal regulations may proceed, a federal judge held Oct. 29 (Barbara Bobo v. AGCO Corp, et al., No. 12-1930, N.D. Ala.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 154622).
HOUSTON - Texas plaintiffs alleging that a zoning decision permits a metal finishing factory to expose them to toxic chemicals and obnoxious levels of noise cannot sue the municipality under the Fourth and 14th amendments to the U.S. Constitution for personal injuries and property damage, a magistrate judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas concluded Oct. 29 (Jorge Elizondo, et al. v. Royal Metal Finishing Inc., et al., No. 13-1631, S.D. Texas; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 154754).
DENVER - A unanimous 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel affirmed summary judgment Oct. 30 for a saltwater disposal well company accused of causing subsidence of land by improperly operating and plugging the well; the trespass cause of action alleged by the plaintiffs is time-barred and is not assignable as a matter of Kansas law, according to the panel (Kristopher Joseph Kowalsky, et uxor v. S&J Operating Co., No. 12-3150 $(consolidated$), 10th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 22108).
ATLANTA - Instead of taking up R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.'s petition for reconsideration or rehearing, a panel of the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 31 issued a new opinion sua sponte with the same result - affirming two small verdicts, saying a panel of the 11th Circuit had expanded on a landmark Florida Supreme Court decision governing tobacco trials in the state (Pauline Walker v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 12-13500, George Duke III v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 12-14731, 11th Cir.).
MILWAUKEE - Excess insurers must simultaneously pay their indemnity obligations on behalf of an insured named in hundreds of thousands of underlying asbestos suits because a 2007 judgment pertaining to the coverage obligations and the insurance policies at issue clearly support paying the claims simultaneously, the First District Wisconsin Court of Appeals said Oct. 29 (Cleaver-Brooks Inc. v. AIU Insurance Co., et al., No. 2013-AP-203, Wis. App., Dist. 1; 2013 Wisc. App. LEXIS 899).
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - A little over six months after a complaint was filed stemming from the rupture of ExxonMobil Pipeline Co.'s Pegasus pipeline in Mayflower, Ark., the company and two of the plaintiffs filed a joint motion Oct. 29 in Arkansas federal court indicating they have settled (Jeff and Erin Born, et al. v. ExxonMobil Pipeline Company, et al., No. 4:13-cv-213, E.D. Ark., Western Div.).
SYDNEY, Australia - An Australian justice on Oct. 28 dismissed an action filed by a tenant who alleged that asbestos at a rental property put him and his family in danger, finding that his landlord had complied with previous court orders requiring him to remediate the site (El-Saeidy v NSW Land & Housing Corporation, $(No $) $(2013$) NSWSC 1554, New South Wales Sup.).
NEW YORK - A federal judge in New York did not err in awarding summary judgment to BP Products North America Inc. and an environmental assessment firm over alleged contamination at a plaintiff's property, a Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Oct. 29, finding that the plaintiff's appeal regarding its claim against BP lacked merit and that the plaintiff failed to establish any privity between itself and the environmental assessment firm (Ridge Seneca Plaza LLC v. BP Products North America Inc., et al., No. 12-4754, 2nd Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 21999).
MIAMI - A federal jury in Florida on Oct. 29 found for Philip Morris USA Inc. and Lorillard Group LLC and against the estate of a smoker who died of lung cancer in 2001 (Ronnie L. Jacobson, et al. v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al., No. 1:12-cv-23781, S.D. Fla.).
LOS ANGELES - A California appeals court on Oct. 29 affirmed a jury's finding holding John Crane Inc. 70 percent liable for a man's mesothelioma, affirmed a $14.5 million punitive damages award against the company and rejected the argument that the Navy's status as a sophisticated intermediary prevented liability (William Pfeifer, et al. v. Aurora Pump Co., et al., No. B232315, Calif. App., 2nd Dist.).