N.Y. Justice Finds Company's Undocumented Assertions Unconvincing

    NEW YORK - Plaintiffs' evidence that a company supplied or specified the use of asbestos-containing products for its furnaces outweighs the company's unsupported assertions that it never manufactured or applied asbestos parts to the type of furnace a plaintiff recalls, a New York justice held in an opinion posted Sept. 11 (Frank Janits and Kathleen Janits v. A.O. Smith Water Products, et al., No. 190084/12, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.; 2013 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 4002).

    Magistrate: Crane Operator Must Offer Factual Details For Benzene-Related Claims

    NEW ORLEANS - A former operator of construction cranes and other equipment who says his exposure to benzene on the job caused him to develop myelodysplastic syndrome failed to include in his complaint sufficient factual allegations to support a cause of action, a Louisiana federal magistrate judge said in a Sept. 13 opinion ordering the plaintiffs to amend their complaint (Thomas C. Dykes and Johnnie Dykes v. Shell Oil Company, et al., No. 13-4934, E.D. La.).

    5th Circuit Says It Lacks Jurisdiction Over EPA's Objection To Permit

    NEW ORLEANS - A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Sept. 13 dismissed a request from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) asking the court to review objections raised by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to three Title V operating permits the state agency issued under the Clean Air Act (CAA) to Nucor Steel Louisiana, after finding that it lacked jurisdiction (Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 12-60482, 5th Cir.).

    Magistrate Judge Rejects Disqualification But Awards Fees In Ethics Dispute

    PHILADELPHIA - Pennsylvania law doesn't protect every employee from contact by opposing counsel, but an asbestos lawyer's failure to at least inquire about a man's current employment violates the intent of the law, a federal magistrate judge held in awarding attorney fees and expenses in an opinion posted Sept. 10 (In re: Asbestos Products Liability Litigation $(No. IV$), Frank Williams Jr., et al. v. Lockheed Martin Corp., et al., No. MDL 875, 09-7010, E.D. Pa.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129477).

    Missouri Jury Awards $225,000 For Pleural Thickening, Holds Premises Owner Liable

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A Missouri federal jury on Sept. 12 awarded a man suffering from pleural thickening and calcified granuloma $225,000 and found the lone defendant 75 percent liable for exposing him to asbestos-containing insulation at its site (Joseph A. Blando v. Business Men's Assurance Co. of America and Liberty Life Insurance Co. and Harry Mosby, No. 12-559, W.D. Mo.).

    Canadian Justice Refuses To Convert Asbestos-Related Civil Contempt Action

    VANCOUVER, British Columbia - A Canadian justice on Sept. 10 denied a request by two contractors and an environmental consulting company to convert a civil contempt proceeding against them into a court action, finding that the issue of whether they were in civil contempt of an order that was issued in relation to asbestos violations should proceed as a civil contempt hearing (British Columbia $(Workers' Compensation Board$) v. Skylite Building Maintenance Ltd., No. 2013 BSCS, British Columbia Sup.).

    Big Tobacco, States Each Claim Victory In Escrow Arbitration

    The nation's two largest tobacco manufacturers claimed victory Sept. 11 over six states found by an arbitration panel to have been lax in collecting escrow funds required by 1998 tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA). Some of the nine other states that the panel ordered to pay withheld funds announced their success the same day.

    South Carolina Jury Awards $38M For Man's Asbestos-Related Testicular Cancer

    CHARLESTON, S.C. - A South Carolina jury on Sept. 11 awarded a couple $38 million, including $27 million in punitive damages, and held three companies liable for the man's asbestos-related mesothelioma of his tunica vaginalis, sources told Mealey Publications (Lloyd Strom Garvin and Velda Garvin v. AGCO Corp., et al., No. 012CP4006675, S.C. Cir., Richland Co.).

    Remand Granted In Part In Louisiana Actions Alleging Hurricane Isaac Contamination

    NEW ORLEANS - Property contamination damage class action claims alleged against the operator of a Plaquemine Parish, La., chemical terminal inundated when levees failed following landfall by Hurricane Isaac were remanded in part Sept. 10 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana (Donna Mumfrey-Martin, et al. v. Stolthaven New Orleans, et al., No. 12-2539 $(consolidated$), E.D. La.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129790).

    South Carolina Capital To Spend $751M To Upgrade Sewer System, Resolve Lawsuit

    COLUMBIA, S.C. - The City of Columbia, S.C., on Sept. 9 agreed to pay $750 million to improve its sewer system and spend an additional $1 million on a supplemental environmental project to restore streams and improve water quality in order to resolve a lawsuit brought by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over the city's alleged violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA), according to a complaint and consent decree filed in South Carolina federal court (United States of America, et al. v. City of Columbia, No. 13-2429-TLW, D. S.C.).

    Motion To Bifurcate Trial Denied In RICO Lawsuit Challenging Lago Agrio Award

    NEW YORK - The judge presiding over the lawsuit filed by Chevron Corp. in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to challenge the $18 billion judgment for personal injuries and property damage by a Lago Agrio, Ecuador, court issued an order Sept. 10 denying in part a motion to divide the liability determinations of the lawyer defendants and Lago Agrio plaintiff representative defendants in the trial scheduled for Oct. 15 (Chevron Corp. v. Steven R. Donziger, et al., No. 11-691, S.D. N.Y.).

    Florida Federal Judge Says Tobacco Plaintiff Can't Bring Evidence Of Additives

    MIAMI - A tobacco wrongful death plaintiff may not introduce evidence of additives in cigarette tobacco, a Florida federal judge said in a Sept. 11 decision, because an expert's report does not touch on the question (Ronnie L. Jacobson, et al. v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al., No. 1:12-cv-23781, S.D. Fla.).

    Panel: Dangers Of Household Asbestos Exposure Weren't Known To 1950s Employer

    SEATTLE - The dangers of household asbestos exposure were not foreseeable to a dry dock company in the 1950s, a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel held Sept 10 in affirming summary judgment for an employer (Loretta Hoyt v. Lockheed Shipbuilding Co., No. 13-35573, 9th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 18791).

    Court: New Evidence For Punitive Damages Was Not Precluded By Remand

    JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Saying that a trial judge did not err by allowing new mitigating evidence to be presented to a jury considering the amount of punitive damages on remand, the Missouri Supreme Court on Sept. 10 affirmed a $1.5 million judgment in a long-running tobacco wrongful death case (Lincoln Smith v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation, No. SC92961, Mo. Sup.).

    Georgia Top Court: Plaintiffs' Claims Create Jury Question On Nonparty Liability

    ATLANTA - Allegations of exposure to asbestos from now dismissed parties in prior pleadings warrant denying a couple's motion for summary judgment on the issue of nonparty fault, the Georgia Supreme Court held Sept. 9 (Georgia-Pacific LLC, et al. v. Fields, et al., Union Carbide Corp., et al. v. Fields, et al., Nos. S12G1393, S12G1417, Ga. Sup.).

    Motion To Stay Pending Ruling On Mandamus Petition Denied In Lago Agrio Fraud Suit

    NEW YORK - The judge presiding over the lawsuit filed by Chevron Corp. in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to challenge the $18 billion judgment for personal injuries and property damage by a Lago Agrio, Ecuador, court issued an order Sept. 9 denying a defense motion for a continuance and stay pending deposition in the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals of a defense motion for mandamus relief (Chevron Corp. v. Steven R. Donziger, et al., No. 11-691, S.D. N.Y.).

    2nd Circuit Seeks State Court Definition For 'Unreasonably Dangerous'

    NEW YORK - Whether a cigarette can be an "unreasonably dangerous" product under the Connecticut Products Liability Act (CPLA) absent contamination or adulteration has not been answered in the state, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said in a Sept. 10 opinion staying resolution of the appeal of a tobacco verdict and certifying the question to the Connecticut Supreme Court (Barbara Izzarelli v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 11-3865, 2nd Cir.).

    Connecticut Electric Company Granted Summary Judgment In EMF Radiation Injury Suit

    HARTFORD, Conn. - A Connecticut power line operator was granted summary judgment Sept. 9 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut in a personal injury lawsuit alleging exposure to electromagnetic field radiation on the grounds that the nuisance and takings claims are barred by the statute of limitations; the clerk was instructed by the presiding judge to enter final judgment for the defendants (Judy Prescott Barnett v. Connecticut Light & Power Co., et al., No. 11-1037, D. Conn.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 128349).

    Judge: Companies Liable For Transporting Used Motor Oil But Not Contaminated Soil

    CONCORD, N.H. - A federal judge in New Hampshire on Sept. 5 awarded partial summary judgment to a group of plaintiff companies seeking to find two defendants liable for contribution under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) for contamination at a Superfund site in New Hampshire, finding that the defendants' transportation of waste oil was not subject to the statute's petroleum exclusion (Members of the Beede Site Group v. Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. et al., No. 09-370-WES, D. N.H.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 127367).

    Questions Remain Regarding Man's Potential Exposure To Products, Judge Says

    BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - Genuine questions remain over a man's ship-borne exposure to asbestos from two companies, a Connecticut judge held Sept. 5 (Paul Hammer, et al. v. A.L. Burbank & Co. Inc., et al., No. 095026285S, Conn. Super., Fairfield at Bridgeport).

    Magistrate Judge Allows Environmental Group To Amend Clean Water Act Suit

    PORTLAND, Ore. - A federal magistrate judge in Oregon on Sept. 5 allowed an environmental group to amend its Clean Water Act (CWA) lawsuit against companies accused of discharging industrial storm water into the Columbia Slough without a permit, in order to reflect changes in the roles of some of the defendant owners and operators (Northwest Environmental Defense Center v. H&H Welding, et al., No. 13-cv-653-AC, D. Ore.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126728).

    Judge Denies Motion To Remand Suit Over Company's Compliance With Cleanup Plan

    SYRACUSE, N.Y. - A federal judge in New York on Sept. 5 refused to remand a lawsuit challenging Honeywell International Inc.'s compliance with an agreement with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over the cleanup of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), finding that the plaintiffs' remaining state law claims still implicate federal issues (Camillus Clean Air Coalition, et al. v. Honeywell International Inc., No. 13-CV-365, N.D. N.Y.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125843).

    3rd Circuit Vacates Dismissal Of 45 Asbestos MDL Cases As Sanction

    PHILADELPHIA - The judge overseeing the federal asbestos multidistrict litigation retained jurisdiction over 45 cases after dismissal of the removing defendant but must reconsider dismissing the cases as a sanction for failing to comply with an order, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Sept. 6 (In re: Asbestos Products Liability Litigation North Dakota Pipefitter II Group Plaintiffs, No. 12-2527, 3rd Cir.).

    Health Plans Seek Reimbursement From Pfizer For Asbestos Medical Care

    NEW YORK - Thirty-two insurers and health care plans on Sept. 5 sought relief in New York federal bankruptcy court from an injunction in the Chapter 11 case of Quigley Co. Inc. so they can sue Quigley parent Pfizer Inc. for reimbursement of millions of dollars in benefits for asbestos victims, saying that they have subrogation rights to recover the benefits from the more than $1 billion in settlement funds that Pfizer has agreed to pay asbestos claimants in Quigley's case (In re Quigley Company Inc., No. 04-15739, S.D. N.Y. Bkcy.).

    Oil Spill MDL Judge Finds Mexican States Lacked Proprietary Interest In Gulf

    NEW ORLEANS - The federal judge in Louisiana who is presiding over litigation stemming from the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon and ensuing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on Sept. 6 awarded summary judgment to the defendants in suits brought by three Mexican states after finding that they were unable to show that they had a proprietary interest in the waters affected by the spill (In re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig "Deepwater Horizon" in the Gulf of Mexico, on April 20, 2010, MDL 2197, Case Nos. 10-4239, 10-4240, 10-4241, E.D. La.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 127393).